Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday Night TV

It has been too long since we've sat in the TV's warm glowing warming glow long enough to get a deep, rich suntan from the gamma rays. A fluke Thursday night off helped to fix this, and we went straight to NBC for old time's sake. Now, we've been keeping up with The Office thanks to the magic of TiVo and Bittorrent, so the re-run last night didn't do much. Scrubs, too, seems dull in comparison to the Charlie Brown-Scrubs mash-up that made the rounds earlier this month.

But Tina Fey's show--dude! we've totally been missing the goddess's newest vehicle! forgive us, Tina, for failing you! Last night's re-run featured her in a Blind Date with Stephanie March after Alec Baldwin (whose talents are being wasted in this show; a cardboard cut-out would do just as well in his role) assumes Tina is a lesbian. Let's just pause there a moment and consider the possibilities...

Yes, yes, everyone else has seen the show. Two months ago, probably. And you have all rightly dumped on its writing. But Tina Fey. On a date with a hot blonde lesbian. This is what TV is SUPPOSED to be about, people!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cop-Out of the Year

Time's Person of the Year is YOU?! What a steaming pile of horse shit.

Let's imagine the possible scenario at the Time editorial office that led to this, shall we?

Writer: "I fkn hate this time of year... I don't want to have to re-read a pile of fkn news articles to write up some Fkr of the Year. Can't we just recycle 'The Computer'? Or maybe 'The Internet'?"

Cover Design Artist: "Yeah, those abstract ones really get my creative juices flowing!"

Financial: "Speaking of which, we can't afford any new photography for the cover this year, so you are going to have to stick with whatever graphics you can steal from Google Images."

Public Relations: "Sales are down. The cover story needs to kiss the average moron's ass."
And so instead of you know, reporting on something, they just put a reflective piece of foil on the cover and blathered about how YOU are something else.

Warren Buffet gave something like 50 billion dollars to poor people--But hey, I gave some homeless guy a buck. Unranked FSU beat "No. 1" Duke--But I beat some half-drunk kids in a game of pool. Or look at the competition as TIME sees it: Hugo Chavez said what we've all been thinking and called a spade a spade (I've been saying it for years now, btw). The Pope was crucified for suggesting that we argue with militant Islamists rather than crusading against them. An alligator finally obliged Steve Irwin and bit his head off... Meanwhile, I've watched and re-watched all the funniest Daily Show clips about Bush, managed to not get killed in the War on Terror, and squashed a few really big roaches, which are kinda like alligators... You know, all in all, I have had a good year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Left Behind is Left

You know those obnoxious Left Behind books? There's a whole shelf of them at Barnes and Noble, crowding out the interesting-sounding Faith/Theology/Spirituality section and encroaching on the Philosophy section, and this pulp is neither Faith nor Wisdom.

Now there is a video game based on the books--a blood-bath shoot-em-up in the style of The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto with the simple goal of converting as many heathens as possible, or, barring that, killing 'em to let God sort 'em out. The battleground for souls is none other than a photo-real simulation of New York City. Not clear yet whether this was designed as a training simulator for Islamofascist terrorists or Pat Robertson wannabes...

Since Wal-Mart has made some filthy lucre from the Left Behind books, they are trying their damnedest to cash in on the game, too. But the game has come under fire from a slew of prostesters, ranging from Christian homeschoolers who consider Left Behind required reading to plain old "won't somebody please think of the children" wailers. That's right! Christian fundamentalism is bad for family values, and the Christians only partly disagree. It's beautiful!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Teach the Controversy

The New York Times on the Holocaust Deniers Orgy in Iran:

Among those attending from the United States was the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose prepared remarks, published by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, asserted that the gas chambers in which millions perished did not actually exist. He said on Monday that the depiction of Jews as the “overwhelming victims of the Holocaust gave the moral high ground to the Allies as victors of the war, and allowed Jews to establish a state on the occupied land of Palestine.”
We have it on high authority that The Mississippi schools' history books will soon be edited to include this viewpoint, right alongside Creationism.

We don't mean to make light of the Holocaust, mind you. We're just saying that the same knuckle-headed thinking that makes "Christians" want to circumvent rational discussion of ideas like evolution that ought to inform our world makes "Christians" like David Duke want to circumvent rational discussion of events that ought to inform our world.

Also, we are sick, physically sick, at the idea that all Iran knows of America is George Bush and David Duke. I see why they want to nuke us.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mayan Groups Angered by Apocalypto

According to the BBC, Central Americans who may or may not be Mayan have seen the trailer for and they aren't happy:

Activists in Guatemala - once home to a large part of the central American Mayan empire - said Apocalypto was unrealistic.

"The director is saying the Mayans are savages," said Lucio Yaxon, a human rights activist.


Only the film's trailer has been seen in Guatemala, but some Mayan leaders say scenes of Mayans with bone piercings sacrificing humans promote stereotypes about their culture.

"Gibson replays... an offensive and racist notion that Maya people were brutal to one another long before the arrival of Europeans and thus they deserved, in fact, needed, rescue," said Ignacio Ochoa, director of the Nahual Foundation that promotes Mayan culture.
If we took Gibson's movies seriously, we'd say:

1. Aren't the Maya extinct?

2. They should ask the Jews how THEY feel about Gibson.

3. Why do we have to attack every movie as racist, or sexist, or bigotted? Why don't we just make a movie about a bunch of people with no lives and no opinions, performed by actors with no distinguishing facial features and ambiguously tan skin coloring that expresses absolutely no views and ambiguously recounts a uneventful story? Would that make you happy?

But Gibson has made all that sort of discussion irrelevant all by himself.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pigeons. Really?

This weekend's NYTimes proudly features 5,000 words on the winged rat of the city. Its full of factoids about the vermin, like the theory that all of today's pigeons are believed to be descendents of aristocratic birds liberated when French revolutionaries sacked their lords' manors. The pigeon haters are locked in a culture war with the pigeon feeders:

“Most of the pigeon feeders are in some way crazy,” Daniel Haag-Wackernagel said, summarizing, rather informally, a psychological study he helped write on the subject. “It is impossible to influence these people.” The most relentless have no family and few interpersonal relationships. They adopt pigeons as surrogate children. He described women — older women — who worked as phone-sex operators and prostitutes to pay for birdseed. This may be the pigeon’s greatest co-evolutionary triumph: the black magic whereby these grubbing little birds have sought out their depredated, human counterparts and transformed them into senseless disciples.
What's more, the pigeon haters have banded together a la the Minutemen to track pigeons and call the cops on the little old ladies who offer the enemy handfuls of seeds and stale bread. We're all for harassing that old guy with the shopping cart full of birdseed, but we worry this mash-up of animal control and border vigilantism will run the other way: Will Conrad Burns be feeding immigrants birth control pills at the local soup kitchen? Shudder.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Booker Prize

And the Prize goes to Kiran Desai for The Inheritance of Loss. We can only imagine that her mother is pissed, having been shortlisted THREE TIMES herself before the judges gave the thing to her daughter. Maybe Kiran will be generous and share the prize money. Hah!

BTW, it bothers us, it really bothers us, that we've never read a Booker shortlist novel until AFTER it shows up on the list.

UDATE: And the Nobel goes to Orhan Pamuk ("Snow" and "My Name is Red").

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Because it worked so well in Berlin...

...the Current Occupant has decided that the war on terror will be won by building a vast moat around Baghdad. Did we say moat? Beg pardon. We meant "security ring." Moats conjure up such crude images of Medieval warfare (Crusade, anyone?).

Yeah, we know we started off with a Berlin wall analogy, but then got mixed up with the moat thing. It is all so non-sensical that we just don't care.

But the real mental disconnect: Building 60 miles of trenches and fortified gateways around a vulnerable city is a fan-FKN-tastic idea. So why haven't we done it in New Orleans? Put it another way: Mr Bush, if Iraq is so damn important to you, and America so unimportant to you, why don't you just go steal an election there and let us get on with our business?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

So that's what those hipsters with laptops in the coffee shop are doing

The New York Times is on to them. The Week in Review editors ordered up a batch of term papers on typical freshman assignments such as "Compare and contrast Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World." The results were exactly what you'd expect from some hipster who had himself dodged college writing assignments:

...Papers written to order are just like the ones students write for themselves, only more so — they’re poorly organized, awkwardly phrased, thin on substance, but masterly in the ancient arts of padding and stating and restating the obvious.

If they’re delivered, that is. The “Lord Jim” essay, ordered from, never arrived, despite repeated entreaties, and the excuse finally offered was a high-tech variant of “The dog ate my homework.” The writer assigned to the task, No. 3323, was “obviously facing some technical difficulties,” an e-mail message explained, “and cannot upload your paper.” The message went on to ask for a 24-hour extension, the wheeziest stratagem in the procrastinator’s arsenal, invented long before the electronic age.
No. 3323, we know who you are. We had a roommate in college who never, ever, turned in a paper on time; he was too busy begging for extensions to actually write the damn thing. He was a philosophy-music theory double major; according to his father, this double major would make him doubly unemployable. Good to know he found work all the same.

For our part, our greatest moment in our college composition class was when we plagiarized the marketing blurb off the back of a Toni Morrison novel and turned it into the introductory paragraph and thesis statement of our "critical essay." The professor gave it an A--and let's be honest, 5 pages of drivvel suits Toni Morrison to a T.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Garrison Keillor Gettin' Feisty

Last week at Salon, Keillor wrote about how America Eats Its Young, a piece that was both spot-on and gloriously bitter.

This week he has his finger right on America's pulse:

We really are one people at heart. We all believe that when thousands of people are trapped in the Superdome without food or water, it is the duty of government, the federal government if necessary, to come to their rescue and to restore them to the civil mean and not abandon them to fate. Right there is the basis of liberalism. Conservatives tried to introduce a new idea -- it's your fault if you get caught in a storm -- and this idea was rejected by nine out of 10 people once they saw the pictures.
We love his use of the term Current Occupant, btw, as in:
After the disasters of the 20th century, Europe put nationalism aside and adopted civilization, but we have oceans on either side, so if the Current Occupant turns out to be a shallow jingoistic fool with a small rigid agenda and little knowledge of the world, we expect to survive it somehow. Life goes on.
Makes us think of the bumper sticker, "George Bush is listening. Use big words."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Busy as hell is no way to be

We've been busy as hell the past couple months. This month looks less painful, so maybe we'll see you around.

We'd like to give a shout-out to the Percolator, who remodeled her digs as well as getting digs of her own. The new Blogger, now in beta, looks like it will be the perfect opportunity to make some changes around here, too. (It's gonna have category tags, people!)

Sorry. Don't know where all the LiveJournal sentimentality came from.

Check this out: Richard Pevear, half of the masterful husband and wife translating team that has done Dostoevsky proud, translated The Three Musketeers this month. We've only started it, but it is mellifluous. Dumas was the Spielberg of his day, or more specifically, the Spielberg-Lucas of his day: Before Indiana Jones, there was D'Artagnan. Speaking of which, The Last Crusade was a damn good flick. That Irish lass who played Dr Schneider seems to have all but disappeared since then, unfortunately--apparently she has problems with on-screen nudity and won't even take a role as a scantily clad vixen. Damn shame.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dear Reader

Posting will be light in the coming weeks. We are starting a new job where the promise of an 80-hour work week requires more skill and efficiency than we possess this early on, and there is also this curiously vexing female (abstinent and teetotaling but incredibly sexy by virtue of being the quickest witted smart ass we know) we can't get off our minds, with the result that there isn't time for blogging.

We'll get to you with some Friday drinks in a couple weeks though. Promise. God knows we'll need one if we don't get anywhere with the girl.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Have Some Watermelon

It has been cold and rainy around here all month. But it is finally starting to warm up and we want watermelon.

Sure, you could just slice it open and bite right in, but how about this: Spiking it up! Cut out a core from the watermelon, just deep enough that it will tightly hold the neck of a bottle of your favorite vodka or light rum. Open the bottle and insert it; prop up the watermelon in your refrigerator so that the bottle of booze is upside down. Overnight, the watermelon will soak up the liquor as it chills. The next day, slice it however you like and enjoy. DD recommended. On second thought, better get two 'melons: One for right now and one to soak up the vodka for tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cool Photography... For a Purpose

You know that transparent screen trick people do with their computer wallpaper? Amnesty International has started doing the same thing with their ads:

If only the US were well-behaved enough that we could be friends with AI...

Monday, June 12, 2006


Go here. Stare at the color-negative picture for a minute. Without moving your eyes, move your mouse, which swaps the color-negative for a black-and-white photo--but wait! you see it in full color! How'd they do that?!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Al Gore's Movie

Now that we've settled into our new digs in Beantown, we hit up the Coolidge for a showing of Al Gore's masterpiece (website here). After his appearance on SNL last month, we remembered how much we like the guy, so how could we not see the movie? A documentary about a PowerPoint (excuse, Keynote) presentation is an odd format: We get snippets of Al Gore playing professor alternating with tidbits about why the environment matters to him, which range from the loss of his sister to lung cancer, indirectly attributable to Gore Farms' tobacco to his college science teachers, who pioneered the measurement of atmospheric CO2. What it comes down to, more than the environment or how sexy a PowerBook and Keynote can make statistics, is what a great president Al Gore could have been.

Look at it like this: He lays out his credentials as a gentleman farmer. He shares his universal sense of humor. His accent is unmistakably Southern but refined. His Biblical references (he calls some of his slides a "nature hike through the Book of Revelations") are perfectly tuned to meet the religious requirement without going over the right field foul line. He is the spurned suitor trying his damnedest to prove that living well is the best revenge; he seems to say, "All of this could have been yours, baby, but you went with the grinning loser. Have a nice life!"

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Date and Time

It is 06:06 06/06/06; just had to commemorate that with a post. BoingBoing has been having fun with numbers this year, too--back in April, the clock briefly read 01:02:03 04/05/06, and in August, the clock will, for a moment, record 11:10:09 08/07/06.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Sisyphus of Morons

Bill O'Reilly is making an ass of himself, as usual, and Keith Olbermann is all over it. Nearly a year ago, O'Reilly justified Abu Ghraib by saying that American soldiers slaughtered some SS Officers at Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge--except that Malmedy went the other way 'round, with the SS Officers slaughtering Americans. He repeated this horsepuckey again the other night and Olbermann stepped up to defend the honor of the slain Americans and pour some whoop-ass on C&L has the Olbermann video, replete with Simpsons references and Stewie voice-over, along with a rough transcript.

Monday, May 29, 2006

We're in the process of moving

And along with packing up all our shit, we're also throwing out a lot of junk. It's very cathartic.

Anyway, we found this bit of effluvia in the bottom of a drawer and thought it was worth typing out before tossing the slip of paper, which dates back to our high school civics class:

Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor because he doesn't have a cow.

You have two cows. The government takes both and gives you the milk.

Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes both and sells you the milk.

You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

You have two cows. You sell one and a buy a bull.

Class dismissed.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

"Rumors of Our Demise Are Dead Wrong"

Even though the headline sounds like something Donald Rumsfeld would say, it is a well-researched piece about classical music in the Sunday Times. We've heard it repeated several times in the past couple of weeks that people prefer living in the recent past, and that is exactly what rumors of the death of classical music are--nostalgia for that time, just a while ago, when all seemed just right.

Among the country's 1800 orchestras (whoa! who knew there were so many!), revenues are up and operating costs are down. Newish composers like Gyorgy Ligeti have such a devoted following that both Sony and Teldec are rushing to record everything he's written. Labels like Naxos turn out new CDs by the dozen every month--and Naxos makes those albums available at, too. The most surprising stat in the Times was the revelation that 12% of downloads from iTunes are classical--okay, so that probably just means the gray-hairs buying classical don't know how to use BitTorrent. And now that you mention it, gray-hairs have always been the principal ingredient at a symphony hall event, and there are more of them now than ever before.

Kozinn also touches on the fact that a generation or so ago, nobody listened to Shostakovich. Now, the generation that grew up while Shostakovich was writing listen to him in concert halls everywhere. Ligeti may be next in line for this sort of revolution, but more likely, we'll find someone else to eclipse him, and classical will live on. Joshua Fineberg, back in Salon's glory days, put it this way:

Most art is crap. This may be a shocking idea to many people. We think of art as the great masterworks we know, and it's very easy to forget the mountains of mediocrity that were sifted to lift Bach or Dante or Emily Dickinson to their Olympian heights. I have heard people suggest that somehow the gene pool has been diluted to the point that no more Beethovens are possible (this suggestion actually came from a composer). What they forget is that Gioacchino Rossini was arguably more famous than Beethoven in the early 19th century and that a French opera composer named Giacomo Meyerbeer was much more popular than his rival, Richard Wagner.

In almost any era, the sheer mass of bad or mediocre work tends to dwarf the good or great works. This can lead us to assume that the past was somehow better, since we kept only the best parts and threw out the crap. I would venture to say that there have probably been more masterpieces created during the past 20 years than there were in the last 20 years of the 19th century (an easy bet, since the population is so much bigger now). We just haven't finished sorting the gems from the garbage yet.

And there, he captures both our rosy nostalgia for the good old days and the value of sorting through piles and piles of records or checking out every live band in town. (There's gold in them thar hills!) Of course, Fineberg is not at all optimistic about our continued patience for sifting through yards and yards of manure to find the gold--but then, consider the Shostakovich thing.

UPDATE: Fineberg just finished a book of the same name as his spot-on Salon essay.

UPDATE II: This was originally posted, by coincidence, on Gyorgy Ligeti's birthday. He died on June 12 in Vienna. Lux æterna luceat eis.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Happy Hour, Virginia Commemorative Edition

Next week we are moving to Boston, so we thought that we should drink to DC/Virginia before we ride off and never look back. Virginia has a long history of whiskey, like the rest of the south, even to the point that the land that would become Kentucky, home of bourbon, was part of Virginia in colonial times. Sadly, we have only found two active distilleries in the Old Dominion. (George Washington's collapsed long ago.) One makes "legal moonshine" (question: is it moonshine if it is legal?), a young, unaged 100-proof corn whiskey called Virginia Lightning. Ouch. The other is the Virginia Gentleman, a spicy-sweet bourbon-style whiskey. We're heading over to the liquor store on the lunch break to pick some up, since it is supposed to be cheap but tasty.

But moonshine? Howdya drink that? We've never tried, but we suggest Chatham Artillery Punch. According to Savannah (Georgia now, not Virginia) legend, when Geo. Washington visited the city in 1792, the nearby artillery company saluted him and threw a ball in his honor. The ladies of the group made a punch with wine and fruit juice that tasted good but lacked kick, so every officer in the company tipped in his flask as he walked by the punchbowl. Later, when Sherman completed his march across Georgia, the citizens of Savannah got him drunk on the same recipe, saving their city in the process. In that Midnight in Savannah movie, someone describes it as "three parts fruit and seven parts liquor, whatever is available on both counts," but the traditional recipe has leaked out from the city of cotillions and midnight voodoo:

For 100 People (Or Ten Admirals)

  • 1-1/2 gallons Catawba Wine
  • 1-1/2 quarts Whiskey
  • 1/2 gallon Rum
  • 1/2 pint Benedictine
  • 1 quart Gin
  • 1 quart Brandy
  • 1-1/2 gallons strong tea
  • 2-1/2 pounds brown sugar
  • Juice 1-1/2 dozen oranges
  • Juice 1-1/2 dozen lemons
Mix all the above and let sit at least 48 hours. To serve, place a large block of ice in the bottom of a punchbowl and pour in punch. Add one bottle of champagne and stir gently.

Some purists say that the wine used should be madeira, not the catawba wine of the South Carolina woods. And there is nothing wrong with adding pineapples and cherries to the mix, either. The stuff is nearly 80-proof and the champagne helps get it in your veins faster, so we'll see you next week when you are conscious again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Beach Reading Season

In preparation for Memorial Day, Slate is rounding up the season's most promising beach reads. Jus' so you know.

UPDATE: For your viewing pleasure, online galleries of 1950s pulp fiction covers, and these pulp covers for editions of the classics.

Bill O'Reilly: As Greasy As Yesterday's Bacon

Rick Rubin called them a "a great rock act making a country album, not a country act making a rock album." Billboard called them Chart Toppers. Bill O'Reilly, though, called them un-American and said they'd never sell more than 2 million copies of their 2002 album, Home. And when he had nothing else to talk about this winter, he said they "have not recovered to this day" for Natalie Maines's 2003 apology for the irresponsible way Texas had unleashed George W Bush on the world.

Now that the Dixie Chicks have a new album--and it rocks--Bill O'Reilly is star-struck. At a Times magazine party, the greasy slime bag all but hit on Natalie Maines. She of course had none of it:

The man, whom Maines described as "despicable," came up to greet her after she performed the song "Not Ready to Make Nice."

"Just want to say that was great," O'Reilly told her. "I really like that new song."

Continues Maines:

"And I go, 'But two million tops, right?'And he goes, 'What?' And I said, 'I saw your show when you said we wouldn't sell more than two million, tops.' And he was like, 'Oh, ah, well, two million's pretty good these days, right?' And I was like, 'Right, yeah. You were saying it in a positive way.'

Then, she says, O'Reilly, who blasted the group on his radio show, added: "We really respect what you did. And we really respect that you stand up for yourself and blah, blah, blah."

The connaisseur of Bill O'Reilly's hypocrisy would do well to watch Keith Olbermann lambast him for this; the clip is available at Crooks and Liars.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

For the Record: No Nude Pics of Lindsay Czarniak Here

Our logs show that approximately 1% of you visit because you want to read something here. The other 99% are directed here when you search for pics of Lindsay Czarniak, the NBC4 sports reporter we hailed as DC's First Hot News Anchor last fall. We want to see more of her, too, but this is a family-oriented blog. Actually, we just don't know where to get revealing photos of Ms. Czarniak.

But since she is the most popular topic around here, we'll link you to some of her work. Last winter, she chronicled the Torino Winter Olympics for NBC4 in a blog that reveals her girl-next-door-ness. To get a taste of Torino, Lindsay recommends Caffe il Bicerin:

It’s the most famous cafe in the city. It was created in 1763 and it’s famous for its "bicerin," the famous hot chocolate drink of Torino. It's coffee, hot dark chocolate and heavy cream mixed together, but the cafe itself is tiny. It's across from a church in a gorgeous piazza where folks leave church zapped of energy and walk across the street for a suger load-up.

Like any All-American girl she's brought back slides from her trip...

And then in March she did a similar assignment in Indianopolis, where the local favorites, the George Mason Patriots, didn't do so well. )c:

On your way out, be sure to vote for Lindsay for Favorite Woman Sportscaster at

And yes, this entire post was a shameless attempt to get more hits. But if you have pics of hot sportscasters in bikinis, leave a link in the comments!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Fuzzy Nipple

This isn't one to make it into the David Wondrich's Drinking Database, but we still felt embarassed at not knowing the recipe this weekend. So, for the record, the Fuzzy Nipple is made with:

  • 1 shot vodka
  • 1 shot peach schnapps
  • a dash of triple sec
  • 2 shots of orange juice
The one true peach schnapps is of course DeKuyper's Peachtree Schnapps, although at DeKuyper's site the drink is called a Fuzzy Navel (peach fuzz plus navel orange... we admit they have a point, but we'll call it what we like. besides, their legal dept. probably got all hot & bothered at the mention of the nipple). Grand Marnier or Cointreau may be substituted for the triple sec, but then you are getting kinda classy for such a simple drink. Also, some people leave out the orange liqueur altogether.

Google also found a shot made with equal parts of butterscotch and peach schnapps and still called a Fuzzy Nipple, but we recommend you stay away from shots entirely.

Reservist in Iraq Buys Saddam's Car, Customs Promptly Seizes the Goods

Well, not exactly promptly. While in Iraq, First Sergeant William von Zehle bought a used 1988 Mercedes 560 outfitted with custom armor plating and side mounted flamethrowers (God, we'd love a pair of those for getting rid of those pedestrians who rush into traffic!) that had been owned by someone in the Iraqi government, possibly Saddam Hussein himself. Way back in 2003. He had it shipped home in May 2004, where he had time to do some minor repairs before he was sent back to Iraq for a second tour. Customs agents seized it as soon as they learned of it this past week.

Steve Jobs is Rilly, Rilly, Proud

Steve is obviously very happy with himself--Dell doesn't have a 5th Avenue storefront, do they? We'll admit that based on QTVR of the opening night, this place looks pretty cool. But it isn't worth a trip into the heart of Manhattan. And, uh, guys--isn't there already a store where you can buy Apples 24/365?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Security Through Obscurity is a Small Peg on which to Hang the Safety of a Nation

Especially our nation. But let's step back. Big Brother has leapt from the pages of fiction onto the headlines. That's not it, either. He was lurking in the shadows since at least 9/01 (you know, when the democracy born on the Fourth of July died and a New Order rose from the ashes?) and, thanks to some "treacherous" news reporters, possibly aided by one or more CIA leaks, was thrown onto Prime Time tv.

Of course, Republican Presidents have pulled shit like this before:

None too pleased about AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth doing the National Security Agency's (NSA) bidding, Arlen Specter says he's going to haul the three telecom companies before the Judiciary Committee for some pointed questions. Deja vu; in 1976, the now-deceased Rep. Bella Abzug did the same thing with three telegraph companies for their similar handmaiden-to-NSA roles. Looking back to those events, we can't help but wonder if there's more history that will repeat itself--will the Bush Administration try, as the Ford Administration did, to extend executive privilege to private industry.
Among the administration execs whose feet were put to the fire but walked away totally unshaken were Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney.

Ars Technica has a characteristically well-done round-up Big Brother's activities from that 1976 run-in to Michael Aids's prediction that we will soon learn of email, text messaging, and cell phone snooping. (We ran out of hyphens here in the Ocean, or we'd cram more in there.) Read it.


Everyone loves "Best of __" lists. So why not make a music zine of nothing but "Best of __" lists? Blender has. They've got the 500 Best Songs Since You Were Born, which will also hook you up with the 500 CDs to Buy Before You Die!, and also worst of lists such as the 50 Worst Artists, the 50 Worst Songs, and so on. Go on, you know you're going to be reading these all day. In a mag full of The 50 Best All-Time Lists, celebrity playlists round out the rest of the articles.

Their blog, which similarly sensationalizes the Best Album Cover of the Week and such, scores big points by linking us to the antique Chris Isaak Wicked Game video.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Reaching for the Pullitzer in Mango Writing

Back in March, the Bush Administration lifted the trade ban on Indian Alphonso mangoes. We don't know why there was a ban on importing mangoes, either. Now that the mango season is at its peak in Mumbai, so Jonathan Allen has scouted out what we're looking forward to, described in florid prose that we can only hope is tongue-in-cheek:

Feeling ready to try out my mango technique on the real thing, I head to the 19th-century Crawford Market, haunt of housewives and head chefs. With its blackened Gothic clocktower, it looks like the wicked stepsister of the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village. But mango season is one of the least intimidating times to visit the place, with the sweet-smelling mango stalls offering necessary respite from the market's many less inviting parts, like the blood-puddled corridors past the butchers' stands and the notoriously dispiriting pet section with its grim array of birds and small animals slumped in tiny bare cages.

Unlike the caged puppies, newly arrived mangoes at the market get to bed down in hay for a whole week, ensuring that they ripen evenly from cool green to hot yellow. Then, once the mangoes are ready, shoppers nuzzle them affectionately against their faces as if the mangoes were sad and needed comforting, another treat withheld from the arguably more deserving puppies. The shoppers are in fact hoping to inhale the distinct whisper of mango perfume, which only barely leaks out the skin of the perfectly ripened fruit.

"Arguably more deserving puppies?" We think not. Give us the mangoes.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Life Imitates Art

The Washington Post has a headline ripped from the plot of The Constant Gardener: Pfizer, purveyor of life-saving medical therapies, tested an unregistered antibiotic in Nigeria back in the '90s without so much as telling the unsuspecting patients, and although they have been trying to deny the dirty truth of their little trial since at least 2001, but lawyers for the families of the test subjects finally found the company's reports. The drug, trovafloxacin, was briefly available in the US but later restricted from most uses due to liver toxicity, but it is worth noting that none of the drugs in its class are used in children because of reports of damage to growing cartilage. So Pfizer's notion that they were providing the drug as a humanitarian effort to ease an epidemic at the time is completely bogus, even if they could explain why their "humanitarian effort" ended before the epidemic.

What's more, according to the 2001 BBC article (above), the control group in this study received half the usual dose of a competing drug, and six of them died as a result of being insufficiently treated. Aside from the inhumanity of it all, such crappy scientific methodology takes the air out of Pfizer's argument that the high cost of drugs is because of the cost of the research involved in bringing a new drug to market, since they are not only morally degenerate but also cheap and sloppy when it comes to testing their drugs.

In all, a panel of Nigerian doctors figures that Pfizer violated Nigerian law, the international Declaration of Helsinki that governs ethical medical research, and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. We figure that the punishment for these crimes will amount to exactly nothing.

The guys at Ars Technica brought up the idea of boycotting drug cos for this kind of behavior, but 1) Pfizer, in addition to its stable of "me-too" drugs with sketchy profiles like this, has a number of drugs with proven safety and efficacy, and 2) all the other drug cos have similar records, and you gotta go somewhere to get better. We'd like to see their patents revoked, so that their drugs would go generic, effectively taking away the exclusive power over these drugs that they have demonstrated they are not qualified to wield.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006

Whom Defeat Could Not Dishonor

Shandy noticed a damned good question from the comments on TNR's report of a Virginia Senator's affinity for the Stars and Bars:

Can anyone explain to me the allure of the Confederacy? I've heard plenty about how the romance is "not all about slavery" but about other things worth cherishing.
We spent some time in Dixie--near Atlanta, where there is a theme park with a huge granite relief of The War's heroes that is animated as part of a nightly laser show so that Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis can come back to fight for the South, and where our high school band had these gray uniforms so that when they took the field, it looked like the Confederate army was poised to shoot down the opponent.

So here is our theory of why the South insists it will rise again, based on our sociologic studies of the Southerner in his native habitat:

When all those rebels came back defeated, they couldn’t get it up.

So all the rebel women started feeding them this pablum about how they weren’t REALLY defeated, because they still had their honor. They had gone to fight for something important (notice how no one ever defines that “something”—they half-heartedly deny that it was racism while praying that you don’t ask any follow up questions. Sometimes they say something about states’ rights, but that is pure bullshit, since the only states exercising any rights are Oregon with their physician assisted suicide, Mass. with gay marriage, and maybe California with car emissions that the reds want to shut down). They had stood up with manly determination against the unreasonable aggressor (sure, we know who fired the first shots at Ft. Sumter, but give the mythmakers a little poetic license).

“You’re right, honey,” said Johnny Reb, rising to the bait. “We fought with heart. They only beat us because they had more money. An’ I suspect the damned French helped them out. Or sumthin’, ‘cause we fought harder and better than those hypocritical little boys with their Harvard educations, and even if they did win the war, we were on the side of what’s right, so we still have our honor.”

“That’s right,” said Scarlet O’Hara, “now come to bed.”

"And let me tell you sumthin' else," Johnny Reb continued. "The South shall rise agin'..."

This myth of how the Northern aggressor had won only through guile and trickery while the Southerners had lost only in a technical sense and maintained the moral high ground became an obsession and a mass delusion. Every child heard the story of how Daddy had to go to war because Lincoln threatened to take away his right to be a man; the Daughters of the Confederacy diligently set about erecting memorials to the Confederate soldier in every town south of the Mason-Dixon line. So much energy is spent repeating the myth and clinging to its every symbol because the minute you step back and look at the whole thing, you see all the holes in the poorly made fabrication. So you have to stay immersed in it to continue believing it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why We're Jealous of Portland

Our neighborhood bookstore goes out of its way to employ stereotypically mousey, bespectacled types. There book selection is first-rate (everything in the place is top-shelf), don't get us wrong, but the world needs more well-read hotties. At the very least, we'd like to see some eye candy while browsing the stacks.

And the Portland Mercury tells us that Powell's Books has acheived this, with pictures to prove it. What's more, the Powell's Pearl Room is apparently (scroll down for best public sex spots in Portland--they'd do well to distribute this list at the airport) as good a pick up spot as the 2nd floor of the old alma mater's library, which was once listed in Playboy as one of the top ten hookup spots in the country. (Our experience failed to verify that.) Powell's also has a great blog featuring posts from guest authors, sorta like book readings but online, but, sadly, nothing XXX-rated.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

For the Medievalists in the Middle East: Some Required Reading

Juan Cole has a great idea: Give the Islamofascists in the Middle East a course in American history. The good stuff, as in, Common Sense, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers--all the ideas that made us the greatest nation in the world before we found Jesus and got corrupt. Translated in to Arabic, of course, which doesn't seem to have occurred to the US government's PR team.

See, the current PR team's idea of spreading American culture amounts to blasting Top 40 Pop as loud as possible, showing Britney Spears laboring, delivering, and breast pumping on Sony Megatrons in the middle of Baghdad, and generally proclaiming Hollywood in the most stereotypically loud, obnoxious American way possible. We hate all that about America and so will the Middle Easterners. This Americana Library, despite the retarded name, is certainly a better idea.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Firefox Flicks Winners

Firefox, the open-source browser, launched an open-source ad campaign last year: Users fired up about the browser were asked to submit homemade commercials. The winners were announced the other day, and we are mightily impressed with the results. Grand-prize winner Daredevil, which will presumably get tv airtime sooner or later, is polished and professional (we had our doubts about programmer dorks making commercials--see Wheee!), and This is hot, which got an honorable mention, is as good as anything from Pixar.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bob Dylan's XM Radio Show

This alone has made us consider XM Radio: Bob Dylan now has his own radio show on XM Channel 40, Theme Time Radio Hour. He spins records and gives pithy little introductions to the music--his first stint as radio DJ. An upcoming episode for Mother's Day will feature "Mama Get the Hammer" by the Bobby Peterson Quintet, of which Dylan says, "Some songs you don't have to talk about; they just say it all: 'Mama get the hammer, there's a fly on baby's head.'"

The playlist for this week's show, Weather:

Blow, Wind Blow — Muddy Waters
You Are my Sunshine — Jimmy Davis
California Sun — Joe Jones
Just Walking in the Rain — The Prisonaires
After the Clouds Roll Away — The Consolers
Let the 4 Winds Blow — Fats Domino
Raining in my Heart — Slim Harpo
Summer Wind — Frank Sinatra
The Wind Cries Mary — Jimi Hendrix
Come Rain or Come Shine — Judy Garland
It's Raining — Irma Thomas
Stormy Weather — The Spaniels
Jamaica Hurricane — Lord Beginer
A Place in the Sun — Stevie Wonder
Uncloudy Day — The Staple Singers
I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine — Dean Martin w/Paul Weston & his Dixieland 8
Keep on the Sunny Side — The Carter Family
Anybody have an XM Radio set-up to hook us up?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sony Records Stiffing the Artists

The Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick filed suit today against Sony Music for paying them exactly squat per download from iTMS. According to the story at, the suit hinges on how to classify single track downloads--should the artist be paid for a one-track license a la inclusion in a soundtrack, or should the artist be paid as if the listener bought an album? The artists say the former, the record company says the later; it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which pays more. BUT, Macworld UK has a different accounting of Sony's payment system:

Rather than paying artists approximately 30 cents of the 70 cents it receives for digital downloads (after deducting payments to music publishers), the suit alleges that Sony Music treats each download as a sale of a physical CD or cassette tape, only paying on 85 per cent of such "sales" (due to a fiction that there is breakage of product), deducting a further 20 per cent fee for container/packaging charges associated with the digital downloads (although there are none), and reducing its payments by a further 50 per cent "audiofile" deduction, yielding a payment to the Sony Music recording artists of approximately 4 1/2 cents per digital download.
We have to respect the shrewdness of calling a digital download equivalent to buying a broken CD, but wtf is this "audiofile" deduction? Sony can rot in hell, along with the rest of the RIAA.

The Price of Freedom

Yesterday, Congress decided that it would be just fine with them if the big telcos made busier sites pay more to use the internet. They want to call this "the tiered internet," as opposed to this damn, clunky old "neutral internet" we have now. Almost everyone--if the ACLU, the AARP, Google, Amazon, and the Gun Owners of America agree on something, you know it is important to us all--is opposed to this tiered internet crap and wanted a law against it, but the GOP voted that down before it even got an open debate. As Percolator put it, this country does not want freedom. We'd put it differently-Freedom® is now $3.29/lb. Or Mb. Or Gal.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Web Calendars

Google Calendar has been up and running, beta-style, for a coupla weeks now. And we hear great things about a similar web cal, We are giving both a half-assed trial for the next week or so. 30 Boxes is first and foremost a social app, geared for sharing schedules, planned events, and so on with your buddies. Google does most of that, too, along with all kinds of RSS options--although we're not really sold on RSS for calendars yet. Both look iCal for the Web.

Neither sync with our Palm, however. We realize that Palms have really gone out of style, but at our day job, they are de rigeur, so as long as we'ev got one in our pocket, it might as well do some multitasking. And surely some XML dork will work out a way to sync one of these babies across our Palm, desktop, and web in one slick hotsync operation.

There are plenty of hacks already for Google Calendar: Google can send events and such to your cell via SMS and this hack lets you type new events into Google's main page or toolbar just like you do with searches.

Line-by-line Book Publishing

Anna Louise has detailed, line by line and dollar for dollar, how a new fiction paperback gets to market. The cost breakdown is amazing and well worth the read, just to see how absurd the publishing industry is. But get this:

Mass market paperbacks that don't sell used to get stripped and pulped -- their covers torn off and the insides made into goo. Usually, by the time this happens, the bookseller has already paid for the book. So the bookseller returns an affadavit (formerly known as "the book's cover") to the publisher's warehouse, and receives a credit, good for use on any other books, instead of paying with cash, and the book is counted as a "return" -- even though it doesn't get returned and it can't be shipped out again. This doesn't happen to hardcovers.
What got us about this is the image of a truckload of book covers arriving back at the publisher's warehouse for credit. The industry doesn't do this kind of brutish recylcing any more, but we miss the old days just a little just for that. We also wonder if there was a time when Barbie dolls that didn't sell were torn apart, their bodies recylced and their heads sent back to the factory for the refund.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Library Built from Airplanes

Architects in Gudalahara, Mexico, have designed an awesome, futuristic looking library using recycled airplane hulls. The library has all the tech to compliment its futuristic image... We are just blown away.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Story of the THX Deep Note

The rumble that builds into a boom and then finally into an F Major chord at the beginning of movies with THX sound is heard in a movie theater, somewhere, every 20 seconds. Computer music extraordinaire Andy Moorer created the THX Deep Note, as it came to be known, in 1982. He tells the story of its creation to Music Thing:

I was working in what was then called the "Lucasfilm Computer Division" as head of the audio group. In about 1982, we built a large-scale audio processor. This was in the days before DSP chips, so it was quite a massive thing. We called it the ASP (Audio Signal Processor). "At the same time Tom Holman was also working at Lucasfilm. He had developed what is now called the THX sound system. It was to premiere with Lucasfilm's "Return of the Jedi." They were making a logo to go before the film. I was asked by the producer of the logo piece to do the sound. He said he wanted "something that comes out of nowhere and gets really, really big!" I allowed as to how I figured I could do something like that.
He did it by writting a computer program to output a series of parameters that would perform live music on a set of oscillators, resulting in a slightly different Deep Note each time the program was run--when everyone heard the version we have come to know, they settled on it. Later, they lost the original recording, but obviously found it in time to stamp it all over a bajillion movies and DVDs.

And of course, we'd be remiss not to link you to the Simpsons parody of Deep Note, a sound that comes out of nowhere and gets really, really big, like big enough to blow the audience away.

Championship Eating

Or, cramming junk food into your maw for sport. Salon discusses competitive eating with Ryan Nerz, author of Eat this Book: The Gorging and the Glory of the Competitive Eating Circut, which argues that thin people can eat more in one sitting than fat people because the blubber prevents the stomach from distending and reveals that back-stage vomiting is really more common than the competitors want to admit. Most interesting revelation: Hot dogs are the hardest to cram--the buns take up lots of space in your mouth and the salt in the meat pulls water into your stomach, filling you quickly.

We are reminded of the Austin Spamarama, where half a dozen guys (and a girl, too) raced to see who could cram the most Spam in 1 minute. This apparently qualifies as an Olympic event in the Republic of Texas... But before we go bashing the Texans too much, we'll confess to owning a book of Spam-themed Haiku by Boston-area Spam lovers. For example:

Perfection uncanned,
Like a beautiful redhead
Fresh from her trailer.

Even in Boston, Spam doesn't lose its white trash authenticity.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Perc friends Sqaushed and Moka bring us Free Pony Theory, an awesome looking audioblog and mp3 forum. Join.

Packed with iTMS Goodness

Coming soon to a store near you--General Mills will be including a code good for one iTMS download in cereal boxes this summer, with some boxes containing special codes for 5 downloads. Brands include one of our childhood favs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, as well as heart healthy Cheerios.

This is going to be VERY good, esp. considering the amount of cereal we'll be eating to make our rent payments in Boston this summer.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Piles and Piles of Books

We were in Boston the other day and killed a few hours at the Harvard Book Store (not officially related to the university, although we suspect they get more than a few hits to their website by virtue of the similarity). The Book Store is notable not only for carrying books that Mssrs. Barnes and Noble would never carry but also for having piles and piles of remainders that are actually worth digging through. This time, we found gems like a reprint of Bob Dylan's Tarantula (we don't even think Borders knows that one exists, even if the clerk's eye does glimmer when you ask), Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49 for $1.99 (a buck forty-nine would have been nice, but who wants to quibble over small change?), and tons more that we were, sad to say, too tired to lug back. Awesome. Only catch is, you have to go there in person to get the deep discounts.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk

How can the storyline of a med-school drop-out who goes to Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings to hear crazy, wild-ass tips and techniques for getting laid that he'd never think of otherwise NOT be good? How can a book that features the protagonist boinking his delusional mother's hot shrink on the altar of the Catholic insane assylum NOT be great? On top of that, there is the whole schtick about choking on half-eaten steak in fine restaurants so that rich, well-to-do types will rush in to save you and maybe even send you cash-filled birthday cards from then on, as if the Heimlich manuever were a second birth and they now identify with you as another child they never had.

AND let us assure you he is more sardonic than "satire" implies:

The magic of sex is it's acquisition without the burden of possessions. No matter how many women you take home, there's never a storage problem.
Chuck Palahniuk, folks--bitter, twisted genius.

Friday Happy Hour

Those of you who know us have already been introduced to the Grapefruit Screwdriver--grapefruit juice in place of the orange; try it and you will never go back. In anticipation of the Easter brunches this weekend, we'd like to suggest grapefruit mimosas.

Along those lines, Epicurious has a Grapefruit Cooler, which is nothing more than grapefruit, sparkling water, and a splash of Grand Marnier on ice. They recommend a little salt to take the edge off the grapefruit's bitterness, which we'll keep in mind if we get a bitter one. Unfortunately, the substitution of sparkling water for bubbly wine robs you of most of the alcohol. That may be a good thing on a warm sunny afternoon like this, but it means you'll need a stronger nightcap later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Music of the Dada

And you thought Dada was all about the art. George Antheil, Esquire columnist and composer (not to mention that he was Ezra Pound's drinking buddy), put together a score for the film Ballet Mecanique back in the 20s. Performing the music turned out to be impossible, since he had a vision for 16 player pianos to play together, but the mechanical action of the damn things couldn't be synchronized. Modern electronics eventually rescued the music, though, so that it could accompany Dada exhibits at the National Gallery. NPR has details and excerpts of the music. BTW, NPR is now the officially the last organization on earth to start a blog. Strong work.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

McCain: Falwell "Not Such a Bad Guy After All"

From today's Meet the Press (transcript at Think Progress):

Russert: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain how his views on this program when you have him on.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

News That Matters to YOU

Virgin Galactic, which has been selling $200,000 tickets to space (not including FAA surcharge and Federal 9/11 tax), has announced that women with breast implants will not be allowed to fly over concerns that the implants will explode. UPI describes such women as flat. out of luck.

UPDATE: This myth has since been debunked. With (un)related Richard Branson sex-romp video at Boingboing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Apple at 30

Wired has a week-long tribute to Steve and Steve's baby, Apple Computer. We knew Apple had left adolescence when it abandoned the rainbow-striped apple logo a few years ago, but 30? Sheesh! According to Jobs, btw, "Artists in their 30s and 40s rarely contribute anything really amazing." Ouch.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Candy from Around the World

Pics and brief descriptions of confections various and sundry, from dulce le leche to li hing candied fruits, from all around the world. We have a question: Does anyone else here appreciate strong black licorice? We hated the taste as kids, but it grew on us with age. (Same with mustard on hotdogs, which we regard as a sign of maturity--maybe even more indicative of having grown up than whether you own a couch.) Anyway, we'd love to get our hands on some of that brightly colored, strong and salted licorice they mention.

More about international candy at Candy Addict.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Happy Hour

We'd like to recommend one for the morning after. No, no a contraceptive, but a Bloody Mary. We know a place that makes 'em with a Cajun-spiced grilled shrimp for garnish, which somehow perfectly fits. Come spend the night, and we'll take you. (We're looking at you, Perc.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Harper's Magazine: HIV Does Not Cause AIDS

For the moment, put aside the fact that Harper's diagnosing AIDS is like The New Yorker repairing transmissions. Let's talk about how a generally well-edited magazine that has turned out good journalism for 150 years can piss it all away in 15 pages.

Celia Farber spent most of her career trying to convince readers of Spin magazine that HIV does not cause AIDS. Back in the 80s, there was a legitimate question as to the cause of AIDS, even if Spin seems like a strange place to debate the answer. By the early 90s, there was no longer any scientific doubt about the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS, so why did she keep teaching the controversy along with such luminaries in the field as Thabo Mbeki? Dunno. But Harper's bought her pitch of an article about her hero/cult leader and prime mover of the "HIV is benign and AIDS is due to toxins" universe, Peter Duesberg.

In the piece, Farber spins a web of half-truths about AIDS research. For example, in the late 90s, a trial of a then-experimental drug, nevirapine, was undertaken to see if it could reduce transmission of HIV from pregnant mothers to their children. It did--substantially--but many of the women did not receive proper explanation of the study's purpose or give consent to participate, and a number of people taking nevirapine succumbed to liver failure, which is essentially fatal in third world places where nevirapine was tested. So, Boehringer Pharmaceuticals should be beaten within a inch of their lives for giving people medicine without explaining what the risks and benefits of the drug were. That being said, a few people with AIDS dying of liver failure might be an acceptable risk to take if you can prevent an enormous number of babies from being born with HIV, and the more important concept, now that we have safer drugs than nevirapine, is that treating HIV infection in pregnant mothers prevents HIV and AIDS in their children. Farber, though, says that Big Pharma tricked a few thousand people into taking a poison for the purpose of killing a few dozen. South Africa's Treatment Action Committee, with the help of such notables as Robert Gallo, the scientist who first isolated and described HIV, continues with a 37-page, point-by-point rebuttal of Farber's tripe here.

Farber's article would have been fine if she had presented the views of Duesberg and friends, perhaps mentioning how their "virusmythology" lets nutjob politicians like Mbeko get away with ignoring the suffering and death of AIDS patients every day. But she presents all this mumbo jumbo as if it is taken seriously among medical scientists, as if Harper's should convince the world of it. Disgusting.

For our part, we'd like to refer you to The Body for HIV/AIDS information, before we mislead you any further.

Monday, March 20, 2006

1000 Most Widely Held Library Books

According to the Online Computer Library Center library cooperative, which claims to be the largest consortium of libraries in the world, the Bible is the most widely held book in libraries the world over. What's more, Rushdie is not on the list, but Lord of the Rings makes the Top 10.

For comparison, we hoped that LibraryThing's 100 most widely owned books would be a better list, but, alas, Harry Potter is #1, #2, #3, and so on until Tolkien joins the party somewhere around #10. Rushdie isn't on the top 100 authors list, either--you are all morons.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Holy Pink Snow, Batman!

Pink snow fell in Russia this past weekend. The weathermen, who probably didn't correctly forecast it, say that storms in the deserts of Mongolia picked up sand there that colored the snow when the storms moved north.

They note that a blanket of yellow snow fell in Russia last April--this Technicolor snow is probably messing up Russian kids--but we all know that yellow snow isn't news. Heck, we had a dog who loved to make it when we were kids.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

We love Murray Perahia, especially his Bach. (Translation: Go get his Goldbergs, even if you have the Master's recording on your shelf.) Fine. Perahia plays good Bach.

Perahia also plays Chopin, and not poorly. And when we heard him playing the Revolutionary etude, we thought he might be doing something right. Jean-Ives Thibaudet (how the fk do you say that guy's first name, anyway?), though, blew us away with the same. Thibaubet, like Yo-yo Ma, is a prima donna whose recorded music relies heavily on the sound engineering to create a lot of atmosphere (like in his performances for the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack), but man, it sounds just right sometimes, you know?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Obnoxious Alarm Clocks

A week or so back, Ars featured the Puzzle Alarm Clock, which ejects 4 puzzle pieces into your room when it alarms. To silence the thing, you have to find and fit the pieces back together. We'd just unplug it, but we have to admit it's more creative than scattering several alarm clocks around your bedroom.

Now Uber-Review (didn't the bad habit of appending "uber" to everything get dumped back in the 90s?) has a round-up of 10 obnoxious clocks, including a Drill Sargeant that barks orders while playing Reveille and a bunch of things that bounce and fly around your room until you get up and silence them.

We are seriously addicted to the snooze button, but like we said, these damn things would be ripped from the wall in about 3 seconds. Glad to see someone had fun designing them, though.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Toscanini on DVD

So this is interesting: Toscanini's "Television Concerts," recorded with the NBC Orchestra in the late '40s and early 50s, have been cleaned up and re-released on DVD. The music is the stuffiest of the stuffy--Beethoven's 5th, Brahms's 1st, Ride of the Valkyries, Verdi's Aida--but we are willing to ignore that. After all, every cliche seemed like genius the first time around, and in many cases, it was Toscanini's genius, imitated poorly and often, that made this music into cliche. (A young Toscanini was in the orchestra the night of several Verdi premieres, for chrissakes, and Toscanini himself conducted the premieres of the cliche of cliches, Barber's Adagio for Strings, as well as now-played out classical "greatest hits" like La Boheme.)

We saw some of this footage on an earlier VHS release which was plagued by a poor synch of the audio and video tracks, but the WaPo and Amazon reviewers assure us that this has been fixed. Oddly, the introductory remarks and announcements are by Martin "Voice of the NY Philharmonic" Bookspan in the 80s and not original NBC announcer Ben Grauer. Worth a look.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Bill of Rights

They told us in school that America is great because Americans are free to criticize the government. "It is in the Constitution," they said, and they can't take that away. Thing is, when nobody gets punished for violating constitutional rights of Americans, that is the same as taking that away. Having lost elections to the right and having put our faith in an ineffective Democractic party, satire is the last defense of liberals like us.

-- EFF has printed the 4th amendment on stickers for you to put on your luggage for that nice person who's been leaving you after-the-fact notes telling you your papers and effects have been searched without a warrant.

-- Slate has a newly redacted Bill of Rights that we highly recommend you print out and display proudly.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Live Action Simpsons Intro Remix

This is so awesome we don't have words for it: Live action staging of the Simpson's intro, set to the authentic Simpson's theme music, complete with a couch gag.

What's on the Pope's iPod?

According to Catholic News Service, Vatican Radio presented the Pope with a personalized iPod nano full of Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky, along with Vatican radio podcasts. Exciting. The radio staffers bought the iPod for the Pope on the occassion of the radio's 75th birthday. Why is the Pope getting a present from the birthday kid?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

More Photography

This guy is apparently a pro photographer, but since his site is in French, I can't be sure. His panoramas of the Paris skyline rock.

SXSW Time!

Even if you won't be going to Austin, you can hear some of the bands that'll feature at SXSW with these torrents of mp3s representing nearly every performer.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Indian Mangoes Coming Soon?

King Alphonso mangoes from India are supposed to be far superior to the generic mangoes from South America available in US supermarkets. After Bush's visit to India, rumor has it that the trade ban on the Indian ones may be lifted. Question: Why is there a trade ban on mangoes in the first place?

Monday, February 27, 2006

What is BoingBoing's Deal?

Cory and friends have been obsessed, certifiably, in a nutjob kinda way, with anagrams of subway maps. Can someone explain the fascination of this crap?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Can We Just Say

...that this Sunday's Times fkn rocked? First, on the homepage, there was this wonderful by-line:

Dubai Ports World will "voluntarily" ask the Bush administration to pursue the deeper investigation Congress has been demanding.
Hahaha! With a pellet gun to their heads, the Ports World folks will ask for the review that BushCheneyRove, Inc., insists isn't necessary--since when does any paper have the moxie to put voluntarily in quotes like that?

THEN the mag led with this yummy goodness: The Taliban's foreign spokesman is a freshman at Yale.

AND to end with a laugh, the Week in Review featured this exchange from the Colbert Files:
Mr. Colbert knew just how to get under the skin of one of them, Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, by suggesting that Mr. Pascrell, a co-sponsor of legislation seeking an end to offensive media portrayals of Italian-Americans, was not a true Italian.

"Congressman," Mr. Colbert said, "your name doesn't end in a vowel."

"Italians don't have to end in a vowel," Mr. Pascrell parried. Mr. Colbert demanded that he name one.

Flustered, the congressman blurted out: "Sole! Tom Sole. S-O-L-E."

God that's good.

PS We've been sporadic with our posting this past month. We'll do better in March.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Our Last Post on the Danish-Arab Cartoons. Promise.

A Danish paper publishes a cartoon that mocks Muslims.
An Iranian paper responds with a Holocaust cartoons contest
Now a group of Israelis announce their own anti-Semitic cartoons contest!

“We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!” said Tel-Aviv publisher Amitai Sandy. “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mardi Gras,

FEMA-style. (Requires Flash.)

Brought to you by, Netdisaster, and the letter N.

Funnier than Freedom Fries

As part of the anti-Danish sentiment following the publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet as the butt of various jokes, Middle Eastern bakeries have re-christened the fruit-and-or-cheese-filled pastry formerly known as a danish. The breakfast treats are now to be called Roses of Muhammed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Computer Modding Done Right

Computer modding runs a gamut from custom painted iPods and iMacs to obssesive sci-fi and game-inspired creations, none of which are particularly useful or even practical as computers, although we admit that PCs with automotive enamel paint, street-racer flames, and chrome bling-bling are fkn awesome looking. Today we found a modded system that makes sense: the computer is built into a desk. The closest thing we have seen before are desks designed to hold the computer case inconspicuously, but actually incorporating the computer's innards into the desk is new, and PowerDesk will build any computer, including a Mac, into a custom desk. If only we had some cash...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Banana Art from Russia

Those crazy Russians are making more than vodka these days. Check out these tattoed bananas!

This is what makes the 'net great.

Bill Sagan, music nut and CEO of Wolfgang's Vault brings us every concert ever staged by Bill Graham (aka Wolfgang Grajonca). Graham started out at the Fillmore Auditorium and quickly branched out to promote other venues and worked with every major group of the '60s and '70s: The Grateful Dead, Dylan and The Band, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, you name 'em. Wisely, he taped all this great stuff, and Sagan's Vault Radio now streams it all for free. Warning: They didn't anticipate the popularity of this stuff, so we've been getting lots of "server too busy" errors at the Vault. It's worth it to come back later, though.

(via Library Stuff)

What is wrong with the RIAA?

In case you hadn't heard, last week the RIAA told the feds that ripping CDs to mp3s is illegal, even if it is so commonplace that CD buyers assume they have a right to rip their music. We are still digesting the idea that the guy selling CDs gets to tell the feds what we can legally do with the music we bought, but the RIAA's website says:

If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail.
So what the hell is it with these people: They want us to rip our CDs and enjoy them, but then their lawyers are going to slap us with a subpoena the minute we do? That's actually a nice way to make more money from their CD business without, you know, having to find new talent or record decent music...

Along those lines, Rolling Stone recently surveyed 1,000 people, who agree that most of the CDs for sale suck. That's right: 92% of music listeners say they have never downloaded a free, ripped mp3 without permission, and fully 80% say that to do so would be illegal (apparently, 12% of people don't do it even though they don't have a problem with us doing it, which is nice), but roughly 75% say that CDs cost too fkn much and more than half say that the quality of CDs on the shelf is generally worse than they'd be willing to pay any price for.

So, to anyone in the music industry who might be reading, we suggest that you fire those schizophrenic lawyers you have working for you and spend the money on making some music.