Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This is how I learn Ground Zero is no longer a hole in the ground

I live a half mile away (across the Hudson) and the first way I learn that it's no longer a crab hole is that a Subway (no pun intended) is going up (literally) on site.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A security kludge I can get behind
Well... it's not like you can steal it until you've used it up...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Eager dandelions

It seems like the results of Slate's Write Like Sarah Palin contest are in (out?).  I didn't make the cut, but I still like my entry:

“As I looked out on the standing-room-only crowd at the state fair rally, their faces lit in the afternoon sun like eager dandelions, I thought of my common-sense ideas, wafting at them from the PA system like a gentle zephyr, blowing through their minds and spreading the seeds of small-government reform throughout our great land.”

But I have to take off my shoes to get on the plane, myself

The Olympic flame sits across six seats on a plane as it is separated into six different miners' lanterns before leaving Athens, Greece, bound for Canada, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

(link goes to more-than-complete set of photos of the Flame being relayed....)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The 80s Are Alive And Well

(well, as well as it ever was).

Remember when all it took to make a crappy repetitive song a #1 chart hit was a mindblowingly inventive, game-changing video to go on deep-dish rotation on MTV?  You know, just before Reagan got re-elected?

LA ROUX 'BULLETPROOF' from soyo on Vimeo.

A set (real, and virtual) one pines for the talent to create, married to a song in true period piece form (with the synths, beat box etc)... Tetris.. Tron.. Rubik's (everything), checkerboard shoes.. plastic jacket... Annie Lennox over-gelled hair.. "3d Demo" show-off graphics.... And, for those whose minds tend to such things, the Pointer Sisters'1984 LA Olympics-inspired "Jump" video, with its tiled-background set.

But, whatever you do, don't miss the La Roux spelled out in the real wood scenery at the 0:35 mark.  Watch full-screen (click on the little "X" next to the Vimeo logo then hit Play) and enjoy.

And, just to make you feel old, the singer was born in 1988.... about four years after the specific time this video is based on...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Would Jesus Do....

.... if he were a priggish bigot?

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

WashPo article

Dogs welcoming soldier home

Although to be fair, they used to react that way every time he'd come out of the bathroom before he left.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Intrinsic Quality of Logos

An interesting (and densely informative) article on corporate logos, designers like Paul Rand, and how things sometimes turn a bit weird for both.

If anything, the fact that the same person had designed the Enron logo and the IBM logo seemed to say nothing more than good logos and good companies didn't necessarily go hand-in-hand. Rand himself implied as much in his 1991 essay "Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons," saying "A logo doesn't sell, it identifies...A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like." And for those seeking Riefenstahl parallels, Rand adds, "Design is a two-faced monster. One of the most benign symbols, the swastika, lost its place in the pantheon of the civilized when it was linked to evil, but its intrinsic quality remains indisputable. This explains the tenacity of good design."

Found this while researching the rare butterfly of the 13-line version of the IBM logo -- I had always assumed there was only the 8-line version done by Rand. Does anyone know of where to see this specimen?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two things that keep me up at night

Sometimes I have trouble sleeping.

Sometimes there is a reason for this and sometimes not. Sometimes it's the rain, and sometimes it's the pipes.

At any given such time, whether there is a reason for it or not, there is always a thought that will present itself as the thing that occupies my mind at the time. Sometimes the thought is whether I should like sports more (yes, really) or whether architecture should be more open and accepting to amateurs (yes, really).

Tonight there were two thoughts which occupied my mind simultaneously, and made me both laugh and cry to the point of leaving my bed.

The first was a mental recreation of a tourist experience I had while visiting a site of Roman archaeological ruins in England, bordering a river by the name of Tyne. Among the building remains were many sub-structures that the site-designers (as the archaeologist-consultants must be described) went to great lengths to explain in the brochures as having served several and many specific purposes (“this is where they cleaned their coins”, “this is where they collected themselves and commented to each other on how clean their coins were”, “this building tells us how important the coins were to them, because it was structurally unsound, and they kept no coins in it” etc). And as we were walking through these various former-spaces I found myself saying to my husband “So… these Romans.. they had a steam bath here… according to the brochure.. and the water went out that way… Wow these Romans really cared about being clean… they went to great lengths to live up to this bathyness thing… you might say that they went all out to bathe in the Tyne daily.” … At which point the American tourists in front of us did an about-face and loudly expressed a happy “oh no, you didn’t.. [shame on you punster]”

The other thought was that Obama might be killed.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Puerto Rico Gets a 9/11 of Its Own

Early this morning a number of large storage tanks in an oil refinery in Puerto Rico experienced sudden combustible failure. Kaboom (link goes to news story). Causes yet unknown 14 hours later.

Being an ex-pat, the only way I could get visual reportage was via the streamed video provided by (the main TV station in PR). One of the things that struck me when I saw their anchor broadcasting from the rooftop of the station building (below)....

... is how much it reminded me of another anchor, broadcasting from the roof of another building, not so long ago:

Telemundo, however, has not stopped showing commercial breaks, and has thus wasted no time in creating a neat little scare-o-graphic to act as transition:

I wonder how long before somebody from the Gulf corporation gives them a call and tells them to cut it out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Philip, on gay marriage

"What do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I know you don't really think I torture cats for fun

But, if I told you that this is my cat's absolute favorite thing in the world, would you believe me?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Dear Google,

I can't think of any precedent of a company who takes off all graphical or textual references to itself off its product, even if only for a day. This is the virtual press release equivalent to shouting from the mountaintop "We have arrived and we can fuck with you".

Then again, the name is right there in the browser's Location bar... presumably typed in by the user itself.

Still..... celebrating the bar code? The 57th anniversary of the bar code? It's not even a round number!

How about this instead:

1959 –
U.S.S.R. probe Luna 3 transmits first ever photographs of the far side of the moon.

(from the same "Today in history" page on Wikipedia you got the bar code thing -- same level of laziness).

I sure wish you would spend less time feeling self-important and accomplished and more time fixing the damn GMail interface. It's embarrassing. Yahoo Mail has a MUCH better interface (rivaling that of desktop Outlook) but unfortunately, in my experience, their performance record is spotty (and not just occasionally). Still, a quick check I've just done shows that, at least today, it's working a lot better. Maybe I'll switch back.......



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Governors Island

New York City recently (re) acquired rights to Governors Island, which is a small, unpopulated, and mostly undeveloped enclave used as a US Coast Guard station for some decades. It is now being turned into.... well, no one is quite sure yet, but so far a lot of people are enjoying taking the free bike-friendly ferry service from Manhattan and Brooklyn to it on weekends for some traffic-free biking and exploring.

Governors Island Preservation web site.

This link goes to a full set of photos taken by me on Saturday.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Moon Shots

Last week I took my telescope upstairs and got my first shots through a camera mount I've had for over a year and never got a chance to try out. It basically allows you to attach any camera (pocket sized.. 35mm / SLR.. as long as it has a standard screw tripod attachment) to the telescope and have the lens point right into the 'scope eyepiece. It's incredibly tricky to align it correctly and focus (there's TWO things to focus -- by the time you've got it mostly right the subject has wandered off the frame due to the Earth's rotation...)

There's at least one or two good ones, though... Click on the photo to see the rest.

(I also like the inadvertent "porthole effect" that you get from the edge of the eyepiece appearing inside the shot frame in some of them -- almost makes it look like you're looking at it through the window of a space ship...)

Saturday, September 05, 2009


"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."

- Butch Hancock, Musician, the Flatlanders

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Polly Wants a MacArthur Fellowship Grant

Do you buy this? Does anybody have a link to the full documentary (or some literature that would flesh out these claims?)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

David Gregory's Head is Two Feet Wide

This is a screen grab of David Gregory interviewing John Kerry (who is neither a small nor a small-headed man) on yesterday's Meet The Press. How is it possible for someone's head to appear dramatically larger than that of another person's, which is sitting four feet in the foreground? Is this some sort of blue-screen shenanigan, in that the interview may have been done by the participants remotely?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two interesting articles about Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick


... from which I learned that the incident at Chappaquiddick occurred two days before the first moon landing! The writer is entirely correct in that today's cable news and talk radio would have engaged in wall-to-wall coverage of the former, completely ignoring the latter.



... from which I learned that Mary Jo Kopechne did not die of drowning, but of asphyxiation, trapped in a car only mostly filled with water, over the course of several hours. My assumption for however many years I've known about this incident is that it was one of those things that happened rather quickly, and while wholly avoidable, could simply be described as one of life's horrible accidents. This new knowledge really brings the moral implications of the act to an entirely new low in my opinion.

But having said that, the second article does also bring up an interesting ethical point, which is that if one thinks of the good/bad that a person's life brings to the world in arithmetical accounting terms, his life is squarely in the black. Fair enough, but I couldn't help comparing this evaluation to the life of another icon which died recently, whose life was considered to be one of monumental contributions to the world, save for one specific act... Could one argue that Michael Jackson's life, in the balance, was one of good, even if the accusations of his being a child molester were to be confirmed? Does that mean that a child molester can be "a good person"? Does this mean that I can be both a thief and a patron, as long as the former is monetarily outweighed by the latter? Most of our lives are a mass of gray-area actions, some not so good, some slightly better than average, but not usually in the extreme one way or another. What can be said of a person who, at a specific time and place, was as horrible as anything that ever was, but otherwise was admirable? What does this mean in the context of law and order? I'm confused.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What's wrong with me?

I see this banner ad on some web site and I immediately think "gee, that's an odd dating service..."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Skating with Prometheus

Something we did a couple of weeks ago:

The ice really was all fucked up and I was worried about dropping the camera otherwise I would have gotten more "action" footage. (it's surprisingly affordable for the what / where it is.. something like $10 admission + $10 skates rental each person.... I highly recommend it as one of those new york things one absolutely must do, such as fall in love and lose all hope).

(click to skate)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

So I went to the Obama Inaugural in DC....

It was a madhouse. Glad I went (if only because I will never have to do this again in my life, nor will I get to I think).

Some photos of the thing:

Some videos of the thing:

My favorite part of the swearing-in ceremony, which actually didn't hit me until well after the fact, is that since the new president automatically takes office at noon, no matter what, and the ceremony was running a few minutes late, it means that the presidential transfer of power actually happened while that lovely, aetherial John Williams piece was playing, and everybody was just sort of silently listening to it in calm and peace. I managed to get some apropos footage (it was called "Air and Simple Gifts") of some birds flying around the Washington Monument while it played and Obama became president. You can see it at the 4:50 point in this video

Rather zen I think.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do you have yours?

Something I got in the mail the other day:

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: