: views from the Hill

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Don't ask me

I have no idea why sometimes posts from back when show up again on bloglines or other RSS feed apps as "new" when I haven't touched them for two weeks or more.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

[URL] midomi


Oh, my. Whither next, Web 2.0?

"Our mission is to build the most comprehensive database of searchable music. You can contribute to the database by singing in midomi's online recording studio in any language or genre. The next time anyone searches for that song, your performance might be the top result!"

Oh, my.

[a nod, I suppose, is due the Tech Chronicles at sfgate.com.]

Thanks a lot, guys.


[URL] Index of artists and architects

Index of artists and architects. Digital Imaging Project: Art historical images of European and North American architecture and sculpture from classical Greek to Post-modern.

Not just European and North American anymore. Also includes images from Vietnam and Cambodia.

Mary Ann Sullivan, Bluffton University, has pulled together more than 13,000 images. Index. Monthly featured site. More.

Monday, January 29, 2007

RIP Barbaro

I was the kid who followed the Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont.

I was the kid who read horse stories.

I was the kid who grew up to know who Russell Baze was and why I should care.

I was the kid who talked Dad, sweetheart that he was, into buying a certain brand of pipe tobacco so I could choose the best name for a Derby winner's colt or filly and win it for my very own.

(and I promised him that should I win I'd somehow be able to feed the critter, exercise it, take care of it ...)

He indulged me each year for a few months while the contest ran.

Sure, Sal. Maybe sure, you'll win the pony. I'll smoke whatever pipe tobacco I need to smoke to get the chits you need to enter the contest to get your Derby winner's foal.

I learned they'd put Barbaro down while we were out on the road today, listening to the news in the car.

I didn't burst into tears. Honest I didn't. I'm grown up now, you know.


I didn't burst into tears until tonight when I saw Asha's clip.

Damn. OK?

Just damn. Just ... damn.

[URL] Senses of Cinema

Senses of Cinema: an online journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema.

Articles, festival reports, DVD reviews, book reviews, links, lists.

The great directors archive is stashed full of information, as is the annotations for films screening at the Melbourne Cinémathèque.


Comments on David Lynch's Eraserhead by Catherine S. Cox.

Alfred Hitchcock by Ken Mogg
Hitchcockian articles in Senses

[found while I was looking for something Hitchcockian ...]

Mash-ups: Jefferson Airplane mashed with Star Trek

We had some discussion about mash-ups a while back.

Came across a good example today: Jefferson Airplane mashed with Star Trek.

Feed your head.

[repurposed from a post earlier today at sfist]

Friday, January 26, 2007

[URL] An elementary dictionary of the English language. By Joseph E. Worcester, LL. D.

From the Making of America collection comes a link to An elementary dictionary of the English language. By Joseph E. Worcester, LL. D. (1865).

I love old dictionaries. The actual wordstuff for this one begins at page 31, after all the frontal matter regarding pronunciation and all that.

Seeing how a word was used in 1865 gives one a glimpse at how the current day definition evolved. Some words in Worcester's dictionary have evolved beyond recognition. Some no longer exist.

e.g. p 168 (lacerable - lapful)

laconism - pithy phrase or expression
Lady-Day - 25th March. The Annunciation.
laic- a layman; -- opposed to clergyman.
lamantine - an animal; manatee or sea-cow.
lambative - a medicine taken by licking
laniate - to tear in pieces; to lacerate
lanuginous - downy; covered with soft thin hair

Some of those words are still in use today, although perhaps not in as common use as they were 142 years ago. "lanuginous" was used in the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals.

Fun stuff, words.

Ten (well, thirty) Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

from Dr. Judith Reisman's site: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries (31 May 2005). Reisman lifted the article whole cloth from Human Events: the national conservative weekly.

A description of the scoring method and a list of the people on the nominating committee are given. The top ten books are described in detail.

The books?
  1. The Communist Manifesto Authors: Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels
  2. Mein Kampf Author: Adolf Hitler
  3. Quotations from Chairman Mao Author: Mao Zedong
  4. The Kinsey Report Author: Alfred Kinsey
  5. Democracy and Education Author: John Dewey
  6. Das Kapital Author: Karl Marx
  7. The Feminine Mystique Author: Betty Friedan
  8. The Course of Positive Philosophy Author: Auguste Comte
  9. Beyond Good and Evil Author: Freidrich Nietzsche
  10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money Author: John Maynard Keynes

    Also included on the list:
  11. The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich
  12. What Is To Be Done by V.I. Lenin
  13. Authoritarian Personality by Theodor Adorno
  14. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
  15. Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner
  16. Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel
  17. The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly
  18. Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
  19. Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault
  20. Soviet Communism: A New Civilization by Sidney and Beatrice Webb
  21. Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead
  22. Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader
  23. Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  24. Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci
  25. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  26. Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
  27. Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
  28. The Greening of America by Charles Reich
  29. The Limits to Growth by Club of Rome
  30. Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Six of these titles I've never heard of: Gramsci, Webb, Croly, Sorel, Adorno, Comte. (Yes, I'm sure not knowing Comte brands me jejune. Alas, that I am.) Five I read as part of the two-year Humanities series in college: Nietzsche, Fanon, JSM, Marx and Marx & Engels. Others I read on my own, including Carson, Skinner, Ehrlich, Reich.

Of the thirty titles listed, I've read (if memory serves) twelve, maybe thirteen. Those unread? Well, doesn't this list make you want to go out and read those you've missed, and reread those you have only a hazy memory of?

I came across this list today from a mention in John Baker's blog where he adds the comment, They turn out to be books that have a point of view different to the panel of conservatives who selected them. No surprises.

If I were to list what I thought were the "most harmful" books, of course the "most harmful" books would be those written by people with a viewpoint that I find poisonous. No surprises indeed.

My list of books would differ in many respects.

I'm having a problem coming up with a list of "harmful" books. Yes, millions of copies of Mein Kampf were published in Hitler's Germany, but was the book itself the cause of Hitler's Germany? How closely did the Soviet Union apparatchiks adhere to the dictums of Marx and Engels and Lenin? Would Communist China have never existed if the little red book had not been published?

My list of harmful books would include:
  • [FICTION] The Turner Diaries by Dr. William Luther Pierce (under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald). Pierce is a white supremacist. This is his ode to the fictional day in the glorious future when the white race will exterminate the vermin who are not white and will rule the world. Yippy ky yay.
  • [FICTION] The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion -- purported to be true, btw, by not just a few folks.
  • [FICTION] The Left Behind series by Jerry B Jenkins/Tim LaHaye
What books do you think are "harmful"? Besides the Tom Swift series, I mean.

[note: I wandered over to John Baker's blog from a post at This Thing Of Ours. Thanks for the headsup!]

[PODCAST] Correct Me If I'm Wrong

The Chron has added a new podcast this week: Correct Me If I'm Wrong

Almost every day, The Chronicle hears from readers (and some non-readers). Most of these comments -- voicemail, email and letters -- don't make it into our letters column. But they can be unusually passionate, irate, confounding and creative.

We listen to them and read them, and we think some of the more interesting and unusual ones are worth sharing. So, today, we're starting a new feature to showcase these communications. It's called, "Correct Me If I'm Wrong."

First up: Pilotless Drone


I think that guy needs to get himself thither, over to misc.writing, where he can unleash some of his pissed-offed-ness on people other than the sorry person whose job it is to listen to these sorts of voice messages.

Check out the other podcasts at the Chron site.

[gleaned from Romenesko]

Thursday, January 25, 2007

[URL] MIT OpenCourseWare

Found a link to this site from someone I know who is working through the Japanese language course and thinks highly of the experience.

MIT OpenCourseWare is

a free and open educational resource (OER) for educators, students, and self-learners around the world.

  • Is a publication of MIT course materials
  • Does not require any registration
  • Is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting activity
  • Does not provide access to MIT faculty

Japanese, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, French, tralala come under "Foreign Languages and Literatures" as do classes about cultures and texts written in those languages such as "A Passage to India: Introduction to Modern Indian Culture and Society," "Twentieth and Twentyfirst-Century Spanish American Literature," "East Asian Cultures: From Zen to Pop."

The Chinese I class, f'rex, includes a downloadable textbook and other study materials. The course assumes you know absolutely NOTHING about the language.

The purpose of this course is to develop:
  • Basic conversational abilities (pronunciation, fundamental grammatical patterns, common vocabulary, and standard usage)
  • Basic reading and writing skills (in both the traditional character set and the simplified)
  • An understanding of the language learning process so that you are able to continue studying effectively on your own.

Or you could take Introduction to Aerospace Engineering and Design, Computational Cognitive Science, Urban Design Politics, or Special Seminar in Applied Probability and Stochastic Processes.

The list of Readings for Bestsellers: Detective Fiction changes each time the class is given but the Fall 2006 session uses the following books:
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan. Six Great Sherlock Holmes Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1992. ISBN: 0468270556.
  • Nabokov, Vladimir. Pale Fire. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1999. ISBN: 0679723420.
  • Poe, Edgar Allen. Tales of Terror and Detection. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1995. ISBN: 0486287440.
  • Cain, James M. The Postman Always Rings Twice. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1989. ISBN: 0679723250.
  • Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1989. ISBN: 0679722645.
  • Christie, Agatha. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. New York, NY: Berkley Publishing, 2004. ISBN: 0425200477.
  • Weber, K. J. Five Minute Mysteries. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press, 1989. ISBN: 0894716905.
  • Sobol, D. J. Two Minute Mysteries. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1991. ISBN: 0590447874.
  • Browning, Robert. My Last Duchess and Other Poems. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1993. ISBN: 0486277836.
  • Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1991. ISBN: 0486268772.

The world is my oyster and MIT Open Courseware is a pearl.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Images ... around town

The QE2 was in town today.

I wouldn't have known if I didn't read sfist.com

His nibs said, ya, he knew. He just didn't know when she was going to arrive.

We heard the departure klaxon loud blast (who knew that Klaxon was an existing trademark?) blare at 9p and thought the QE2 was heading out of town.

Being in the midst of eating dinner, we paid it no nevermind.

The klaxon loud blast blared again at 10p and his nibs headed up to the deck to see what he could see.

He called me upstairs and I tried to take pictures. Note the long bow on this ship. Talk about retro!

Posted by Picasa

What you don't see is the phalanx (well, not really. We're talking four boats max.) of coast guard boats blocking anyone from coming through while the QE2 backs out from her berth. I imagine there was a similar phalanx on the other side of the ship.

I just couldn't get a good, un-jiggled picture. My Coolpix 5600 is a way good camera, but it's not set up for certain things. For this picture I used the "museum" special setting. The "night" setting just didn't cut it.

Also seen about town, a night or three ago, a very sharp car (Tennessee Highway Patrol in that STAR on the door) down at the bottom of the Montgomery Steps at Green.

Posted by Picasa

Earthquakes? Aliens? Or something else?

We've had a couple shakes recently including a 4.4 off the coast in far north California, along the Mendocino fault.

I thought I felt another one. So I clicked on my handydandy USGS map and nada.

I pulled up the larger look and ... What's that over there in Nevada? A 4.1? Followed by a flurry of aftershocks? Those are good shakes for an area where nothing ever happens, in an area where the nearest fault (the Furnace Creek Fault) is twenty-five miles or so away.

"Look at that," I said. "Weird."

His nibs looked over my shoulder.

"How close is that to Area 51?" he asked.

... or the Tonopah Test Range, for that matter.

Pull up the earthquake-Nevada map side by side with the Area 51 map.

Line them up. See what I see?

Those earthquakes (a 4.1, 3.2, 2.9, 2.6 &c., all clocking in at approximately 4 miles underground) are clustered off Hwy 95 between Goldfield and Scotty's Junction.

Close enough to spit on the end of the Nellis Air Force Range in Nye County, NV.

What's going on?

Art Bell and George Noory need a headsup, wouldn't you say?

Updated business/submission links at Internet Resources for Writers

News from Internet Resources for Writers:

Checked and updated all links on Business/Submissions.

The page includes subsections:
  • Grants, Prizes, & Contests - lists
  • Markets - market listing resources on the Web
  • Scams - known scams and how to avoid them
  • Submitting - information on manuscript formats, queries, writing a synopsis and more.

I also added a separate header for our Miss Snark's blog.

Occurs to me that at some point I need to port all the content over to a CSS-driven revamped site.


Not today.

[URL] Making of America - 19th c primary sources

Making of America -- 19th c primary sources (and some 20th c too)

Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints. For more details about the project, see About MoA.

Amazing collection of stuff.

I was wandering around today trying to see if I could find some written context for "The man who doesn't read books has no advantage over the man who can't read them" (and variations), attributed to Mark Twain -- a discussion that popped up yesterday on Project Wombat (formerly, the Stumpers list).

I never did find confirmation or attribution for the alleged Twain quote, but I did find an essay -- patronizing to say the least -- explaining to the dear little women what sorts of books they should be asking for their husband's permission to buy and read: a six-page article titled, "Reading," by L.L. Hamline, found in "The Ladies' repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion."

Whoo boy.

With the thousands of books and thousands of articles the MOA folks have scanned and continued to scan, you could spend a long while in these archives.

Maneuverability is good. The search is FAST and can be simple, Boolean, &c. MOA pulls up matches giving title &c. and number of pages your search terms are on. You can wend through the pages of a given work or ask for those specific pages within the work that have your search term(s).

The app doesn't highlight the found word on the page, which is unfortunate when you have a dense page filled with tiny print.

Interesting stuff. A peek into where we've come from.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

RIP Barbara Seranella (1956-2007)

Received a note from my SinCNorCal cohort with word that Barbara Seranella died Sunday while awaiting a liver transplant.

Sad news for those who'd known her.

More information at her site.

Life's too short for some. This is, as one of her titles said, an unacceptable death.

Less than three weeks ago, I blogged that her New Year's message showed such spirit.

We all had hoped ...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Racism? Or Jealousy and Envy? Or Just Showmanship?

For those who aren't living under a rock (hey, even I know about this and I haven't had the TV on since ... oh, about October), there's a brou going on over at Celebrity Big Brother (over 38K protests already logged) about the interactions between some of the other contestants and Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood movie star.

The long time sponsor, Carphone Warehouse, has canceled their sponsorship. Tempers run high, and so do the viewer stats.

I finally clicked over to YouTube this morning to check out some clips of what's been happening.

The Economist has what I think is probably the right take on the situation.

The crap these people are throwing at Shilpa Shetty is less about racism (although the bullies do pick on Shetty's Indian face and clothes and cooking and what-all because they think that's where she's vulnerable) and more about the fact that Shetty is beautiful, poised, well-spoken, well-off and in all ways a success, a celebrity in her own right.

The contrast between her circumstances and those of her bulliers is striking.

They're jealous. They're eaten up with envy. They are showing the world less what is wrong with Shetty and her Indian background and more about what is inherently wrong with them. The more they beat up on Shetty and the more grace she shows, the less she breaks down because of the verbal battering, the more infuriated they become.

What a bunch of jerks.

Shetty is grace under pressure, a lot of pressure. She'll come out of this with her halo intact, nay even polished. Perhaps her grace is a form of passive aggression, perhaps she's classy because she knows it drives them nuts.

Maybe so, but the others? They simply come across as jealous lusers. Bullies. Cretins. Crap.

My take.

Or is it all just theater? The Age comes through with a different slant.

As feminist Germaine Greer, who appeared in a previous Big Brother, argued in The Guardian, Shetty is "a very good actress". "Everything about (Shetty) is infuriating," Greer said. "Everyone hates her because she wants them to. The problem is that most of the housemates are too dim to convey what a pain in the arse Shilpa is without appearing to persecute her."

Some papers are calling Greer's commentary a defense of Shetty.

You think? I don't. I don't think Germaine Greer much likes Shetty either.


We now return you to things that matter.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

[BLOG] This Thing of Ours and THE TOP TEN: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

For those of you who don't read This Thing of Ours, you should! you should! The blog is subtitled: The reading community is small, despised by all, and ever threatened with extinction. New members always welcome!

A post today begins,

What do you get when 125 of today's writers are asked to nominate their best books of all time? The answer is, something like the unwieldy 544-title list included in The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, on sale now.

I took a stab at my Top Ten and came up with

REBECCA = Daphne DuMaurier
THE BIG SLEEP and/or THE LONG GOODBYE = Raymond Chandler
SCARAMOUCHE = Rafael Sabatini
CATCH-22 = Joseph Heller
SIDDHARTHA = Hermann Hesse
ETHAN FROME = Edith Wharton

... and then I had to stop because I ran out of slots. But what about PRIDE AND PREJUDICE or COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO? JANE EYRE? WUTHERING HEIGHTS? THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN/THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE? BLACK BEAUTY? (the first "real" book I ever read, so dear to my heart.) some Wodehouse, some Ngaio Marsh, some Josephine Tey (DAUGHTER OF TIME would make the list.)

There's a bit more to the comments I left there, but that's enough for here and now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Important stuff! Where was the burger born?

Burger Brawl: Texas Rep Claims Burger Birthplace: Was the burger born in Athens, TX, or New Haven, CT?

New Haven weighs in.

Another paper weighs in.

DeStefano notes that New Haven has been a cradle of creativity, as the birthplace of the cotton gin, the first rubber tires, the corkscrew, the Frisbee, lollipops, Erector Sets and pizza.

Methinks it's time to check those bonafides.

The Frisbee? Lollipops? Hard to believe.

(Someone invented the hamburger? That's hard to believe too.)


Christopher Lockhart, Executive Story Editor at ICM has a blog called THE INSIDE PITCH: a Hollywood Executive answers questions from screenwriters.

What applies to screenwriters can also apply to writers.

Take a look-see, if screenwriting or fiction writing be your smack.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Corner of Lombard and Hyde

Don wasn't quite sure where he'd been the other day, when he wished he'd had his camera with him.

I suspect he was at the corner of Lombard and Hyde. [photos follow]

Yesterday we spent our Sunday afternoon doing the usual: looking at

(1) quaint studio cottage on Kearny, just south of Filbert, 'neath Coit Tower. Cobbled together from four earthquake cottages. Sold furnished. $779K. No parking, of course. No views.

(2) 401 Union St #101. A nice 1BR/1BA condo at Union and Kearny. Parking. $595K, which comes to a price per sq ft of $792.28. Agent said he already had two prospective offers and another agent was bringing by a client. Good deal, he said, in a nice neighborhood, when I asked him what he really thought of the price.

(3) $6.5m house for sale up on Russian Hill (owner, she of Legally Blonde, has moved to LA). For $6.5m I'd expect a more dazzling view than just interrupted snippets of the Golden Gate Bridge. Nice roof deck. Sound system throughout. Lovely wood floors. Delightful custom artwork on the walls of the young child's room. (Owl and the Pussycat, Dish and Spoon, piggies, &c.) Far more bookcases that I usually see in a house, but ... $6.5m? I don't care if it is huge and historic, a Pueblo Revival house designed by Charles F. Whittlesey, one of the houses on Russian Hill built for Norman Banks Livermore. THERE IS NO ZILLION DOLLAR VIEW. This place is not worth $6.5m without a view.

Wandered further until it was time to head home before heading out to dinner.

These photos were taken yesterday (Sunday) from the corner of Lombard (that crookedest street) and Hyde (where the Hyde Street Cable Car runs down to the Bay). Sunny day. I happened to have my camera with me.

Click on photos for larger images.

Looking east toward Telegraph Hill. You can see the red cranes behind Yerba Buena Island and the new Bay Bridge eastern span under construction. Cone-shaped Mount Diablo in the far distance.

Looking north toward Alcatraz.

If the day had been slower, if there hadn't been cars barreling up Hyde from the Bay and cars inching onto Lombard from three directions, if I hadn't had my doubts whether people would notice me standing in their way, I would've done what some other hardy souls did, I would've stood in the middle of Hyde to take the picture of Alcatraz, but, instead, you get this picture with a bit of tree on both sides.

Lovely day, though.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

GeoGreetings from the Hill

Click on image for full effect.

GeoGreetings creates custom online greeting cards using building images found with Google Maps. Jesse Vig, the cool app provider, is looking for help finding more buildings that look like letters.

Thanks! to Jesse Vig, cool app provider at GeoGreeting, and to Stacy of She Dreams In Digital for the headzup.

[URL] WikiLeaks

How to leak a secret and not get caught - WikiLeaks from New Scientist Tech, 12 Jan 2007.


Good? Worthwhile?

Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi community can analyze it and put it in context.

I give it a month before WikiLeaks is either so full of garbage as to be useless or the able meta monitors start shutting down "undesirable" wiks and creating WikiLeaks' own form of censorship.

(Cool logo, though ...)

APOD: 2007 January 13 - Comet Over Krakow

APOD: 2007 January 13 - Comet Over Krakow

Almost caught it this morning, but the sun had already tipped up above the eastern foothills by the time I got out of bed. Headed off to Liguria Bakery for rosemary focaccia and rosemary/garlic focaccia in lieu. Ym.

Frederic Larson caught an interesting glimpse of the McNaught a couple days ago.

Update: Keera snapped it too!

Update 2: More on McNaught from msnbc.

[URL] Mathematical Quotation Server

Mathematical Quotation Server from Mark Woodward and the Furman University (SC) mathematics department.

Keyword Search - Alpha by Author - Browse - Download - Random

Text references given when known.

Apocryphal Babbage quotation?

Even if so, I like this:

On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

-- Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

[URL] World Cultures - an overview

From WSU, the archived coursework and resources for the university freshman-level World Cultures class.

Texts, maps, &c. Ignore the "available for distance learning registation" [sic] notices and the links to discussion areas. This site is archival only.

Want to read up on Bhagavad-Gita? You'll find yourself here. Click "contents" and you'll get to an online text (a downloadable version is also available) or click "resources" and you'll get a list of hyperlinks to other online texts, essays, commentaries and such like.

While away the afternoon.

No search functionality, alas.

(Found when searching for the etymology of "no retreat, no surrender" -- the title of DeLay's new book-- which drew me toward Sparta, which brought me here. Could any of the erudite readers reading this tell me whether there was a Spartan rule which translated as "no retreat, no surrender"? Thanks much.)

Friday, January 12, 2007

This is just so wrong, in so many ways: fourthmeal.com

I was down in the south Bay today, making sure the parental abode in East San Jose would survive the expected frigid temperatures. We'd basically shut down the heat after my mom moved on to save $$$, but his nibs was afraid the pipes would burst if the temps dropped as low as expected.

(Woo hoo! Temps in the 20s expected. We haven't had temps this low since The Great Freeze of 1989. Yesterday, in anticipation, we moved the jade plants and herbs into the house. Did you know the blossoms on jade plants had a pungent smell? I didn't. Now I do.)

The younger sib was taking the train in to work and wouldn't have a car available to check on the parental abode and rather than ask him to change his plans, I drove down, set the heat, pumped a bit from the pool cover, piled things in piles, shifted nine bags of clothes/towels/sheets/&c. to the Goodwill and ... had lunch with his nibs.

Lunch was our usual (if not Thai Orchid) place: Taco Bell. Fears of green onion? chopped lettuce? E.coli? Death? Not us. Death by Chalupa, maybe.

Call me totally unaware. We don't watch TV, so we don't get the commercials. We don't pay much attention to print ads.

Today at Taco Bell, I was introduced to the ad theme of "the fourth meal. ... the meal between dinner and breakfast."

You know that meal ... the meal that makes 127 million Americans overweight, and 60 million obese. (*)

There's even a very lame Web site -- very lame I say because I tried it because I wanted to see what was being offered, and ...why? Why have this site at all? I exited about three clicks into the experience.

The thing that bothers me most about all this is the Taco Bell ad agency thinking it would be a great idea to convince folks who eat at Taco Bell that a fourth meal between dinner and breakfast is not an aberration and "munchies" (uh.oh.) but an 'onest-to-gosh extra meal in the day that everyone knows about and eats and you should too.

Bad enough I eat chalupas at lunch: ghod spare me from the day when I think a mid-evening "meal" of chalupas is nothing out of the ordinary, nothing I ought to be having second thoughts about.


That copy writer ought to have zir mouth washed out with soap.

Whoever designed the Web site needs a spanking, too.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

[URL] Double-Tongued Dictionary: Slang, jargon, and new words from the fringes of English.

From Grant Barrett, lexicographer for The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English, Double-Tongued Dictionary: Slang, jargon, and new words from the fringes of English.

RSS feed or just wander. Comments are entertaining too.

e.g. cheddar curtain n. the divisions real and imagined that separate Wisconsin from neighboring states, especially Illinois. Also cheese curtain. Related: Sconnie, Wisconsin, English

Editorial Note: This term is parellel [sic] to Orange curtain, cotton curtain, and other, similar terms.

Citations: 1992 Chicago Sun-Times (Aug. 7) "The Mix" p. 5: Lift the cheddar curtain. The Wisconsin State Fair celebrates its 100th year in its current location at State Fair Park in West Allis, Wis., through Aug. 16. 1993 [Julian Macassey] Usenet: alt.tasteless (Nov. 10) "Re: Tasteless Secret Santa": At that time of year (Feb, March), I will probably be in Wisconsin. So I will fly back from behind the Cheddar curtain. 1994 [Bob Christ] Usenet: alt.tasteless (Jan. 14) "Re: Rock 'n Roll for geezers": He's done it! Julian has moved behind the cheese curtain. 1994 [Joseph Betz] Usenet: talk.bizarre (Oct. 12) "Re: Longest Known Palindrome": Wisconsin—Behind the Cheese Curtain. 2003 A. Forester Jones Yellow Snow (June) p. 65: The pilot announced that they had crossed the "Cheddar Curtain" and were over Wisconsin. Adam started visually searching the land below for large warehouses stuffed with surplus cheese. 2005 Northwest Herald (Chicago) (May 23) "Don’t let road work ruin travel": People heading to Wisconsin can find information about road construction behind the cheddar curtain by logging onto http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov. 2006 Bike Black Ribbon (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) (Nov. 19) "BBRS Ride with the Bums": Mid November, behind the cheese curtain is not known for its balmy climes or great trail conditions, but this particular November day turned out to be dry, with a few peaks at blue sky.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hang onto those hats.

As I mentioned a wee bit ago, there's a fine line between conscientious and compulsive, between wanting all your blocks set up in a straight line and not being able to function unless your blocks are set straight.

That being said, those of you hooked up to the RSS feed will notice that I'm fiddling with old posts -- oh, not posts that go back to forever, just ones that go a little bit back, say to when I swopped over to the !Beta Blogger or a maybe an itsy bit further.

See, when I swopped over to the !Beta, I picked up tag functionality.

I've been taking a look at the tags I've created and used (and the spots where I probably should've used tags if I want to be consistent and you know how us compul^H^H^H^Hnscientious people are) and ...

Rather than comment on each and every post I fiddle with to say that I'm playing around with the tags, assume that that's what's different unless I specifically say so.


Muy muchas gracias.

Update: Done. No, really. I didn't make all the changes that I could've, but I made enough that I feel better about the labels. Wish I knew enough about the Blogger internals that I could've changed "url" to "URL" without having to find all the "url" labels, delete them, then create a "URL" label and add that label back to all the posts that needed it. Seems if you have a "tHisTagIsSTUPID" tag, you can't have a "THisTAgisSTUPID" tag. Blogger just won't let you. There must be some easy way to change your mind and decide all your "city" tags need to be "urban" instead. I'll keep poking around.

Update 2:You can edit all the posts with a given label [note to self: need to remember that Blogger calls tags "labels" because they have a different feature that they call "tags"]. You still need to delete label "a" from all posts so-labeled and then add label "b" to all the posts.

If S.F. were really Baghdad by the bay

If S.F. were really Baghdad by the bay by Jaime O'Neill
Sunday, December 10, 2006

More than 3,700 Iraqi citizens died in that country's violence during October, perhaps three-quarters of them in Baghdad, a city of 6 million people. If an American city the size of San Francisco were to suffer a proportionate level of violence, it would mean about 10 or 11 dead people each day, bleeding to death on Market Street, or calling for help as they wait for an ambulance that never shows up at some blast-blackened Starbucks on Van Ness Avenue.

But that, of course, is only the dead. Many more are injured, rushed to San Francisco General ...

continued ...

Monday, January 08, 2007

[WR] Ten Rules for Suspense Fiction

Ten Rules for Suspense Fiction
Brian Garfield

[Editor's note: In 1994, John Grisham revealed to NEWSWEEK that he credited the following article by Brian Garfield with giving him the tools to create his ground-breaking thriller, THE FIRM , as well as subsequent books. Garfield himself is a noted bestselling novelist, as well as a screenwriter, producer, and nonfiction writer. He won the Edgar Award for HOPSCOTCH, which was made into the prize-winning movie of the same name, starring Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson. For more of this renowned author's credits, please see his bio at the end of this article.]

The English call them thrillers, and in our clumsier way we call them novels of suspense.

They contain elements of mystery, romance and adventure, but they don't fall into restrictive categories. And they're not circumscribed by artificial systems of rules like those that govern the whodunit or the gothic romance.

The field is wide enough to include Alistair MacLean, Allen Drury, Helen Maclnnes, Robert Crichton, Graham Greene, and Donald E. Westlake. (Now there's a parlay.) The market is not limited by the stigmata of genre labels, and therefore the potential for success of a novel in this field is unrestricted: DAY OF THE JACKAL, for instance, was a first novel.

The game's object: To perch the reader on edge --- to keep him flipping pages to find out what's going to happen next.

The game's rules are harder to define; they are few, and these are elastic. The seasoned professional learns the rules mainly in order to know how to break them to good effect.

But such as they are, the rules can be defined as follows.

continues ...

The Great Thirst

Yesterday's Chronicle Sunday magazine (07 Jan 2007) had a great fictionalized look at what may happen in California's future:

The Great Thirst: Looking ahead to a post-global warming life in California, 60 years hence by Glen Martin

The following extrapolation presents a worst-case scenario of California's water situation in the coming decades, but not necessarily an unlikely one. It is based on a variety of sources, including interviews and conversations over the past several years with scientists and government agency staffers, such as those associated with the University of California, the California Department of Water Resources and the Bay Institute. (The observations of Jeffrey Mount of UC Davis and John Harte of UC Berkeley were particularly enlightening.)

The story starts thusly:

It is a sign of the flexibility of the human spirit that a certain nostalgia has begun to pervade our memories of the Great Thirst. With it immured safely 30 years in the past, we can afford such revisionism. Today, in 2062, we delight in recalling the heroic incidents it kindled, the ingenious responses to catastrophe, the shared privations. Now that we have squeezed through the bottleneck with our institutions more or less intact, we can savor the simple and glorious fact that we endured.


Don's little dam is mentioned.

I wish the story was only catastrophic wild-making woo woo, but some of the scenarios mentioned are far too possible. Worst case scenario, maybe. But worst case scenarios sometimes come true.

Update: [OK, yeah. I'm fiddling with Google labels ...]

Sunday, January 07, 2007

[OBIT] Momofuku Ando

Chron obit today for Momofuku Ando


Ando, age 96, who died of a heartattack Friday, invented Ramen, the first instant noodle.

I have some Ramen in the bin in the kitchen for those days when I have time for nothing else or can't think of anything else or am feeling too drear and nothing sounds good, which sometimes amounts to the same thing and sometimes doesn't.

RIP Momofuku Ando. What a brill idea you had, and carried through. American college students thank you.

Ando gave a speech at the company's New Year ceremony and enjoyed Chicken Ramen for lunch with Nissin employees on Thursday before falling ill, Japan's largest daily Yomiuri reported. [from the SFChron obit]

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Epiphany. Tomorrow, the tree comes down.

Today, we slept in, shipped a huge box to Boston, visited me mum and went to a party at the Duke of Edinburgh (a pub where my stepdaughter once tended bar) to hang out with people we worked with twenty years ago when we worked at a company that no longer exists. The crowd was bigger than last year's, but there were still plenty of no-shows. I saw people I was pleased no end to see, whom I hadn't seen in far too long, and I saw people whom I'd seen New Year's Eve. (I was pleased to see them too.)

A good time was had by all who attended. The Founding Father showed up to schmooze with former employees and to order a round of drinks for everyone. I ate greasy calamari and onion rings and drank Murphy's stout, and wished I'd just stuck to the Murphy's.

Now, I tuck in. Tomorrow, the tree.

Friday, January 05, 2007

But, wait! Does Throckey know about this? I think he might object!

Milady the Most Honourable Sal the Sardonic of Throcking by Hampton

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Most Noble and Honourable the Sardonic of Throcking by Hampton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Allz I said was that my name was Sal and I was a grrrl, for petra's sake. ...

Thanks, um, Your Most Serene Highness Lord Don the Recumbent of Chalmondley St Peasoup

[ low bow ]

[WR] Annual Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. No fee. Deadline: 18 Feb 2007

Competition Guidelines

* Personal essay that is previously unpublished*, or has only been published since January 1, 2006 (*Essays that have previously appeared on Web sites are considered published.)
* 450 words or fewer (as determined by Microsoft Word word count tool)
* Two categories for entry:
     o Humor
     o Human Interest
* One Dayton, Ohio-area winner and one National/International winner will be awarded in each category
* Judges will also select several essays for "Honorable Mention"
* Limit one entry (total, not per category) per person
* No entry fee
* No age restrictions (all ages are judged together)
* Entries and/or any accompanying materials will not be returned
* All submissions are final - corrections to and replacements for submitted essays will not be allowed
* Washington-Centerville Public Library reserves the non-exclusive right to publish the winning entries
* Entries must be submitted online, using the official online entry form
* Entries must be submitted by 11:59 PM, EST, February 18, 2007

Samples of the winning entries past are on the site.
International entries accepted.

First place prizes: $100 and fame! and glory!

Have at it!

[URL] Wooster Collective

The Wooster Collective is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating ephemeral art placed on streets in cities around the world.

You know: not just graffiti, street art, projected art, found art the world over.

Stuff like


Mozilla Firefox Cheatsheet

Mozilla Firefox Cheatsheet from lesliefranke.com

The genius of Ray Harryhausen

from YouTube, a 4.5 min compilation of every Harryhausen critter and contraption, in chronological order.

[Caution: "soundtrack" of sorts. You'll probably want to lower your sound or turn it completely off.]

More Ray Harryhausen:

Balderdash & Piffle - help rewrite the OED

Help write the OED.

Balderdash & Piffle - help rewrite the OED

The OED seeks to find the earliest verifiable usage of every single word in the English language – currently 600,000 in the OED and counting – and of every separate meaning of every word. Quite a task! The forty words on the appeal list all have a date next to them – corresponding to the earliest evidence the dictionary currently has for that word of phrase. Can you trump that?

e.g. flip flop

WANTED: Verifiable evidence before 1970.

Ever hear the joke about the Frenchman in sandals? Phillipe Floppe? Never mind. The onomatopoeic word flip-flop referred to a somersault, an electronic circuit, and a manner of moving noisily, before it came to mean a rubber sandal beloved of antipodeans, although of course they call them jandals or (how wrong can you get?) thongs… Flip-flop is the word we are interested in here, and the OED wants your evidence of the word from before 1970.

The OED has a list of words that they're looking to find earliest usage. If you're able to provide CONCRETE dates and usage with verifiable references for the words they're looking for, drop them a line.

I found a couple of earlier dates using Googja and handy references and sent them on this afternoon. They may already have received those ante-datings, but maybe not and the more the merrier.

Join in.

Word from Barbara Seranella

Seranella wrote a New Year's op-ed for the LA Times to clue us in on how she's doing since July 2005, when she had two liver transplants, followed by a month-long coma.

I HAVE DEDICATED every shooting star, broken wishbone and blown-out birthday candle to the same thing during the last year: I want my health back.

We want the same for you too, Barbara.

op-ed continues

(Seranella's ninth Munch Mancini murder mystery, DEADMAN'S SWITCH, is due out in April from St. Martins/Minotaur.)

[Thanks for the heads-up on the article, Miss Snark.]

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Library porn. Libraries to lust after.

A random Stumbleupon click took me here, where I found a collection of photographs lifted from Candida Höfer's book LIBRARIES.


An essay by Umberto Eco on libraries serves as an introduction to the book. Except for the introduction, there are no accompanying essays, just 137 full-page photographs, each faced with a blank page.

My favorite of the photographs Jaime Morrison posted is that of Trinity College Library, Dublin. [link to artnet's scan added: buy a n/100 print for $1850]

Oh. MY.


(Or are libraries and books not something you lust after?)

Update:Candida Höfer's LIBRARIES may well be the second book I buy in 2007. I need to check with abebooks.com and Amazon and others.

I was going to say it would be my first book purchase of the year. I almost forgot I bought something today when we were at Book Passage in the Ferry Building. A post on all that follows, in good time.

Cat herding. ...

I'd never seen this video before.

His nibs says, oh, that one. That was making the rounds a couple years back. Well, it's news to me, and I like it.

Thanks, Halsted.

per her latest post (which I wholeheartedly agree with, which the younger younger guys can attest to, being crappy spellers in their youths) I had to check back to an earlier post to make sure I spelt her name right. Did. Phew.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Librarian of Congress Adds 25 Films to Film Preservation List

I don't see many films, but this seems a worthwhile exercise.

It is estimated that 50 percent of the films produced before 1950, and 80 to 90 percent made before 1920, have disappeared forever. The Library of Congress is working to stanch those losses by recognizing, and working with many organizations to preserve, films that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today
[26Dec2006] added 25 motion pictures to the National Film Registry (see attached list) to be preserved for all time, bringing the total number of films on the registry to 450.

Press release with list of twenty-five films just added

Nominate films for the film registry

Disabled the Snap Preview while I ponder ...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

1-Click Answers ... sponsored links

Looked up struldbrug with my handy-dandy 1-Click Answers and got some entertaining sponsored links:

[struldbrug -- for those who don't know and really don't want to check right now -- is "The appellation given to the immortals in Gulliver's Travels who were incapable of dying but continued to exist in a state of miserable decrepitude, regarded as legally dead, and receiving a small pittance from the state -- hence in allusive uses." according to 1-Click Answers, which borrowed the definition from Michael A. Fischer's Worthless Word For The Day]

The links:

Cirugia Plastica
Cirugía Plástica en Argentina a precios bajos. Excelencia médica.

Low price plastic surgery. Yay!

Fotos De Descuidos
Buy Fotos De Descuidos on eBay Fotos De Descuidos for sale!

Photos of negligences? ?

Dr Jorge Vergara Rodgers
Tecnologia Dental Avanzada Odontología Láser Sin Dolor

I like dentists who are sin dolor.

8¢ Photos, No Minimum
Wholesale Professional Printing Lab Studio, Wedding, Poster, Ad Prints

pictures. OK.

Tienda de Diego Maradona
Tenemos jerseys, camisetas y otros productos de Diego Maradona.

I'm not quite sure why a struldbrug might be interested in a Diego Maradona jersey. I'd be more interested in piccies of certain hunky Argentine polo players.

Why are so many of the links en español?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Fog burns off

Funny fog we had today down our neck of the City.

The folks at SFist had a blog post and picture of a sunny day at Balboa and 42nd Ave and mused about why they were hearing fog horns blowing when they could see no fog.

At the same general time where we are, which is seldom foggy, we had something like this:

We watched (and I chronicled) the fog dissipate leaving us a beautiful day:


A glimpse into my future, or so I'd like to believe.

Click on either picture for the sequence of photos.

Snap Image Search is pretty cool too.

Snap Image Search for /bhutan/.

Nice, eh?

Nifty widget: Snap Preview Anywhere

Snap Preview Anywhere is a nifty widget from snap.com

Want to see how it works? Hold your cursor over any hotlink on this page that doesn't reference a page on towse.com.

Like this one or this one or even this one, which is where I espied the gizmo this morning.

Nifty. Keeno.

The thought behind it is that it gives your readers a glimpse at where an "away" link will take them allowing them to make a semi-informed choice as to whether that's where they'd be interested going.

Thanks, Halsted!

Happy New 2007.

More later.

For now, we're home safely from a party in Palo Alto with friends of long standing.

We are really blessed with the friends we have. We're pleased with life in general.

I've been a bit um. less than cheery for the season for a while now. (Duh.) So much so that I wondered whether a New Year's spent elsewhere knocking back champagne with people who know me well enough that they might notice would be the way to go.

Turns out New Year's with old friends is ... good, real good, more than good, even if you don't think you're fit company for crowds.

Good to see old friends.

Happy New 2007. Próspero año y Felicidad.

I offered that to the gathered and someone said, "Prospero año? What does that mean?"

"I don't know really. I may have learned my Spanish growing up in East San Jose, but that bit I learned from Jose Feliciano. It means, I think, a wish for you for a financially healthy -- prosperous -- new year."

"Oh," they said. "A healthy new year in all sorts of ways, then."

Works for me.

A healthy New Year to you and yours.

More later.