Then beggars would ride.
If turnips were bayonets
I would wear one by my side.
I found a bag of assorted crap. It's the sort of crap you toss in a junk drawer and when you move out of your house, you shove it into a bag because you don't have time to sort it out. It is such insignificant crap that you never bother to sort it out. So it sits around in a box, unseen for decades, until it becomes a little time capsule.
I started thinking about this sort of crap when I heard that Andy Warhol used to store boxes of assorted crap in his archives. He'd throw random things into a box and periodically send them off to storage. After he died, the boxes were opened and cataloged. One of the boxes contained a lost script by Valerie Solanas, she shot Warhol because he lost it. Oh well.
My bag of assorted crap is not as interesting as that. But since it is a collection of ephemera that has survived intact for so long, it deserves a closer examination.
So I'm going to present photos and document every single item in the bag. I did this once before. I took photos of a box of my childhood toys. I got an email from Rudy Rucker, he said he had boxes like that in his basement but he never knew what to do with them, now you just blog it and toss it out.
This is the unopened bag of crap. Click the link to see the rest of the photos.
Due to intense spam attacks on my blog, I have been forced to block access from every IP in China. In the last month, I have received over 16,000 spam comments, all of them originating from China. I don't know what these spammers think they will achieve by spamming comments. They know they're posting to a MovableType blog, which uses NoFollow, so none of the links in comments will improve their Google Pagerank. That's usually the goal, and the NoFollow was implemented to thwart this. But still, they persist in this futile effort. Spammers are stupid.
So if you are from China and you have a compelling need to access my blog's contents, too bad. Get your Chinese ISP to stop hosting spammers and maybe bloggers won't be forced to lock you out.
Last winter, I caught the Swine Flu, I was sick for a whole month. I went to the doctor, they took my temperature, it was 96.5F. I didn't know your body temp could drop like that, I asked the doctor about it, he said, "it's within a normal range." Ever since then, my average normal body temperature has been 96.5F.
This winter, I caught a terrible cold, I've been sick for over a month. I went to the doctor, my body temperature was recorded at 93.5F! I thought any body temp that low meant the time of death was within the last 4 hours. At one point, I had a terrible fever, my temp shot up to 97.5, I felt like I had a fever of 104. But I must be getting better, my temp has stabilized back to 96.5.
Next winter, I hope I don't get a cold like this. I don't know how much lower my body temperature can get. I'm already at the edge of hypothermia.
we send to you the parts.
Schaller Electronic GmbH
Dr. Lars Bünning
Managing Director - Owner
Occasionally I find an exceptionally interesting piece of music. It's not often that this happens, I'm firmly stuck in the 1970s Punk era, and they just aren't making any more 1970s Punk music. I've heard it all before, and the more times I hear it, the better I like it.
However, a very interesting "tribute" CD was released in 1996, with contemporary bands (and even some old school punks) covering their favorite Buzzcocks songs.
It took me a while to figure out why I liked this album so much. I did what I usually do when listening to music, I picked up my electric guitar and played along. Some of the arrangements were eccentric, and it was jarring to hear the Buzzcocks as heavy metal. I listened to the songs and then wondered why I don't listen to the original tracks very often. This is just the sort of music I like to play my guitar with.
The Buzzcocks appeared on some of the first recordings to come out of the British punk scene. They were rough, poorly recorded, but full of the new Punk energy. I bought all those tunes on vinyl when they first came out. Now I have them all as mp3s. So I went to my iTunes collection and pulled up some originals, tried to play along, and immediately discovered the problem.
The Buzzcocks just could not tune their instruments properly. That's a common problem with a band with only guitars and bass, they tune to each other, it doesn't matter if they're at the wrong pitch as long as they're at the same pitch. So almost all my favorite songs were recorded out of tune with my guitar at standard tuning.
I could tune my guitar to the song, but that isn't very practical, since each song might be slightly out of tune with the others. Then I recalled what I did, some 33 years ago, when I played along to the Buzzcocks on vinyl. Every turntable has a "pitch control" so you could adjust the speed of the turntable. You could take that out of tune track and raise or lower it's pitch a little bit, enough to get in tune with your guitar. But the tempo changes too, so you can't be too aggressive with your pitch control.
But that was enough to play along with the records on a turntable. I don't know of any similar digital process on a computer or mp3 player. There are programs like the "Amazing Slow-downer" that will slow down your song without changing the pitch. I want just the opposite, to change the pitch without changing the tempo.
I could change the pitch in any audio processing program and then write it back to another mp3. But it would be difficult to get a precise match, and I don't know how to get it at the correct pitch and preserve the tempo. None of this is as easy as just turning the dial on the turntable until the song's key matched your guitar tuning.
But the new modern album has all the advantages of modern technology, including digital tuning. With my guitar software, Guitar Rig, and my guitar that is well set up with pro tuning pegs, I can get my tuning accuracy to within 1/1000th of a note. And you need to be tuned to the correct standard, especially with modern digital production techniques. Your track might not be recorded at the same time as other tracks, the artists might not even be in the same room at the same time. So they need to have a common standard tuning.
So the new album of cover songs are all in tune. I can play along with them and sometimes I think "Oh, so that's the chord progression I've spent decades searching for." And now I have enough skills to play them, unlike when I was a teenager with my first new electric guitar, when I heard these songs for the first time.
$JOB "CENTRAL JR. HIGH-- C.EICHER",KP-29,TIME=3,PAGES=10
When your friends start remembering to date their checks with the correct year or are busy addressing Valentines, whichever comes first.Well at least this gives me an excuse to use my favorite Dave Letterman joke. It must be one of his favorites too, since he uses it every year.
2009 is the Year of the Ox. Darn it, I keep writing Year of the Rat on my checks!
It is not uncommon for rude people to act offended when their rudeness is not tolerated. Miss Manners assures you that this does not make it rude to refuse to tolerate rudeness, as long as this is not done with retaliatory rudeness.
If you asked Japanese who they considered the most respected “military heroes” of the country were, you might find some who would answer Amuro Rei or Bright Noah or Captain Okita/Captain Avatar, the legendary characters from these war-oriented anime series.I responded:
When I ask my Japanese friends who are the greatest Japanese war heroes, they tell me stories of Oda Nobunaga, Toyoyomi Hideyoshi, Takeda Shingen etc. Not a single one of them has ever cited imaginary warriors from anime.This is my problem with anime otaku. They spend so much time watching and discussing absolutely mind-rotting drivel, attempting to make it into something far beyond what it is: lowbrow entertainment. And then they make sweeping generalizations about Japanese society based on their "insight" into the culture, as they gleaned it from cartoons. I think this is terribly offensive, I argue that it is a thinly disguised form of racism. They are stereotyping a whole culture, based on ridiculous ideas they learned from comics or other comics fans.
I suppose it depends on who you hang out with. I suppose it’s only natural that if you peddle porn and manga, you have lowbrow friends. But don’t let that warp your perceptions of Japanese society as a whole.
I am going to explain that all brontosauruses are thin at one end, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end.There really isn't much to it. The format works like this:
All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end.
I have just explained that all brontosauruses are thin at one end, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end.
1. Say what you're going to say.It's horrible. Please stop doing that.
2. Say it.
3. Say you said it.
There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you'll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon.I would usually try to put it a little more diplomatically than that, but the last sentence is almost verbatim from Apple sales training, and has been conventional wisdom for decades. Most customers would accept this logic, but once in a while, you get a case that is so egregious that you have to do something about it.
From: Rex BruceAnd my response, sent via email:
Subject: Disinfotainment post, possible lawsuit
May 30, 2007
Please delete the "Disinfotainment" article regarding myself, our center and its practices from your blog. It is not accurate. Should you not remove it I will seek assistance through our lawyers. I will make a legal case against you, obtain a cease and desist order and will sue you for damages and legal costs. As well, any criminal charges which may be involved will also be reported and pursued.
This post will also be reflected as "abuse" to its respective host(s) who will be contacted and be held liable as allowed to the extent of applicable law. They may proceed against you with those remedies available to them in the interests of their protection.
Please respond within 48 hours.
Los Angeles Center For Digital Art
107 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
I will not remove the article. I notified you of this article via email the day it was published, almost a year ago. It is too late to complain now.Oh how many times have I heard this story before? It is the pathetic war cry of internet flamers and bullies, "you'll be hearing from my attorney!" And of course nothing will ever happen because the guy doesn't even have an attorney. This sort of hollow threat inspired the internet neologism "cartooney," denoting the imaginary attorney the flamer thinks he will hire to prosecute his lawsuit.
Note: your email, and all further correspondence, will be posted to my weblog. Your attempt to suppress this article will only draw more attention to it.
Saikaku the poet, however, seems to have been more interested in quantity than quality. Engaging in one-man poetry marathons, he composed the staggering quantity of 23,500 haikai in a single 24 hour period, and thus established an unbeatable, if not necessarily enviable, record for concentrated poetic output.But perhaps Saikaku's record has been surpassed in an equally unenviable way. I immediately thought of a local hippie poet from the late 1960s, he called himself Mr. Alphabet.
FADE IN: CHARLES EICHER is sitting at the keyboard of a Macintosh IIfx, KATHRYN BIGELOW is sitting next to him, watching over his shoulder as he demonstrates screenwriting software. CHARLES Notice how each line is automatically tabbed over to the proper indentation when I hit the appropriate function key. KATHRYN Which keys tab to which column? CHARLES I'll write them on a post-it note and paste it above the function keys, but you'll have them memorized before long. You can even put the characters' names, or any commonly used text, on a function key to save typing. CHARLES scribbles on a post-it note and sticks it on the keyboard.I always loved how the writers' eyes would bug out as I typed and formatted the script as quickly as I talked. They were blown away because writing is a slow, difficult process for them, and I made it look effortless.
Pumpkin Custard Pie
2 one pound cans pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Pour into two 12 inch pie crusts, bake at 350 for 75 minutes.
Keilis-Borok's team now predicts an earthquake of at least magnitude 6.4 by Sept. 5, 2004, in a region that includes the southeastern portion of the Mojave Desert, and an area south of it.I've archived this UCLA press release as a downloadable PDF file since it is likely to be removed. But let's not get ahead of the story here.
A Holiday Wish, by Steve Martin
If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children of the world join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.
If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for 30 million dollars a month to be given to me, tax-free, in a Swiss bank account.
You know, if I had three wishes I could make this holiday season, the first, of course, would be for all the children of the world to get together and sing, the second would be for the 30 million dollars every month to me, and the third would be for encompassing power over every living being in the entire universe.
And if I had four wishes that I could make this holiday season, the first would be the crap about the kids definitely, the second would be for the 30 million, the third would be for all the power, and the fourth would be to set aside one month each year to have an extended 31-day orgasm, to be brought about slowly by Rosanna Arquette and that model Paulina-somebody, I can't think of her name. Of course my lovely wife can come too and she's behind me one hundred percent here, I guarantee it. Wait a minute, maybe the sex thing should be the first wish, so if I made that the first wish, because it could all go boom tomorrow, then what do you got, y'know? No, no, the kids, the kids singing would be great, that would be nice. But wait a minute, who am I kidding? They're not going to be able to get all those kids together. I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible, more trouble than it's worth! So -- we reorganize! Here we go.
First, the sex thing. We go with that. Second, the money. No, we got with the power second, then the money. And then the kids. Oh wait, oh jeez, I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay, I need revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in hell! That would be my fourth wish. And, of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. Thank you everybody and Merry Christmas.
a gallon of gas A Tank of oil
A piece of wire they call the coil
A piece of tin A 10 foot Board
Put them together and call it
"It's ridiculous," said Sandra Cerrigan, who paid $2.23 for gas for her Land Rover at a San Francisco Chevron Station. "We're getting gouged."Hey lady, maybe if you'd bought a Toyota Prius instead of that Land Monster, you'd be able to afford gasoline. SF has one of the best mass transit systems in the US, and you have to drive a car, let alone a huge SUV?
Daedalus built the labyrinth for King Minos, but afterwards lost the favor of the king, and was shut up in a tower. He contrived to make his escape from his prison, but could not leave the island by sea, as the king kept strict watch on all the vessels, and permitted none to sail without being carefully searched. �Minos may control the land and sea,� said Daedalus, �but not the regions of the air. I will try that way.� So he set to work to fabricate wings for himself and his young son Icarus. He wrought feathers together, beginning with the smallest and adding larger, so as to form an increasing surface. The larger ones he secured with thread and the smaller with wax, and gave the whole a gentle curvature like the wings of a bird. Icarus, the boy, stood and looked on, sometimes running to gather up the feathers which the wind had blown away, and then handling the wax and working it over with his fingers, by his play impeding his father in his labors. When at last the work was done, the artist, waving his wings, found himself buoyed upward, and hung suspended, poising himself on the beaten air. He next equipped his son in the same manner, and taught him how to fly, as a bird tempts her young ones from the lofty nest into the air. When all was prepared for flight he said, �Icarus, my son, I charge you to keep at a moderate height, for if you fly too low the damp will clog your wings, and if too high the heat will melt them. Keep near me and you will be safe.� While he gave him these instructions and fitted the wings to his shoulders, the face of the father was wet with tears, and his hands trembled. He kissed the boy, not knowing that it was for the last time. Then rising on his wings, he flew off, encouraging him to follow, and looked back from his own flight to see how his son managed his wings. As they flew the ploughman stopped his work to gaze, and the shepherd leaned on his staff and watched them, astonished at the sight, and thinking they were gods who could thus cleave the air.
They passed Samos and Delos on the left and Lebynthos on the right, when the boy, exulting in his career, began to leave the guidance of his companion and soar upward as if to reach heaven. The nearness of the blazing sun softened the wax which held the feathers together, and they came off. He fluttered with his arms, but no feathers remained to hold the air. While his mouth uttered cries to his father it was submerged in the blue waters of the sea, which thenceforth was called by his name. His father cried, �Icarus, Icarus, where are you?� At last he saw the feathers floating on the water, and bitterly lamenting his own arts, he buried the body and called the land Icaria in memory of his child.
The death of Icarus is told in the following lines by Darwin:
"...with melting wax and loosened strings
Sunk hapless Icarus on unfaithful wings;
Headlong he rushed through the affrighted air,
With limbs distorted and dishevelled hair;
His scattered plumage danced upon the wave,
And sorrowing Nereids decked his watery grave;
O'er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed,
And strewed with crimson moss his marble bed;
Struck in their coral towers the passing bell,
And wide in ocean tolled his echoing knell."
An airline worker inspecting a passenger's bag Jacksonville International Airport on Friday was accidentally injected with an antidote to chemical weapons. The Delta Air Lines employee, who was not identified, was injected with atropine, an antibiotic that helps people survive chemical attacks......and bee stings. My sister has an intense allergy to bee stings, she has to carry an atropine injector kit in her purse everywhere she goes. If she gets stung, she has to inject atropine immediately, or she will die. Now the airline will deny her the right to carry atropine injectors on a flight. Sure, she won't get stung during a flight, but she could get stung after arrival. This is sickening. I suppose they won't let diabetics carry insulin and syringes either.
...26 American servicemen had been killed by hostile fire and 137 wounded since operations began... a further 28 have died and 115 injured in "non-hostile" incidents..That's 54 deaths and 252 wounded. But tonight I heard the NBC national news say the total death count was fifty. What are the real numbers?
Across the country, the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens provides much-needed support to spouses, children, and other family members of police officers killed in the line of duty. We provide funding for grief counseling, scholarships, direct emergency financial assistance and other programs to loved ones left behind.Except it's all a lie. This organization isn't a charity for the families of dead cops, it goes to the American Police Hall of Fame, a tiny "museum" in a shabby industrial building in Florida. The AFPCC's main goal seems to be the promotion of the the Death Penalty and private ownership of handguns, they even claim to be a local militia
What We Stand for:I have contacted the Iowa Attorney General to make sure they have filed the required financial disclosure forms. If they've filed, I expect that over 90% of the donations go to "administrative expenses" and less than 10% to actual charitable work. That's how these frauds work, the charity's officers keep all the money and give a tiny amount to the people they raised money for.
1. We are a strong, powerful and professional organization on the side of law enforcement.
2. We believe that all law-abiding citizens have the right (if they so select), to own firearms for self-defense and sport. We are also ready to serve as a standing "militia" during any disaster or national emergency, as part of civil defense preparedness.
3. We support swift punishment for career criminals.
4. We favor the death penalty and are determined to achieve drug-free schools and communities.
NHTSA crash statistics demonstrate that, in side impact crashes, LTVs are more injurious as a striking vehicle than are passenger cars. For example, when LTVs strike passenger cars on the left side, the risk of death to the car driver can be 30 times higher than the risk to the LTV occupant. This compares to a driver fatality ratio of 6.6 to 1 in car-to-car left side impact crashes.In this example, Highway Safety is the Commons, our shared resource. The SUV owner has increased his safety, by increasing the risk to other drivers. The incremental cost, the increase of safety risks to all drivers from one SUV is negligible. But normal automobile drivers see the SUV, and they realize they are less safe when driving next to SUVs. Now they must buy an SUV to keep the same level of safety as before, when everyone was driving smaller vehicles. Soon the highway is filled with SUVs, normal passenger cars are no longer safe to drive. Our common resource, safety, has collapsed.
This structure makes absolutely no sense to the students from Japan that I've encountered. They were trained in a system called "kishotenketsu" that is an entirely different structure for stories. In this system, the supporting points loop around the main point without creating a linear argument. The points are intended to only obliquely reference the main point, it is up to the reader to infer how this relates to the main thesis. There is no firm conclusion, only an ambiguous ending that may point to several possible outcomes. Again, it is up to the reader to form their own conclusion. Perhaps the best example of kishotenketsu is the movie "Rashomon." The movie explains a crime from the point of view of 4 different people, each of them claim to have committed the crime. We see the crime repeated 4 times with subtle variations, in the end there is no clear indication of who really is the criminal, the viewer must decide.
The kishotenketsu structure is so predominant in the minds of Japanese students that it is really hard for them to come out and make a straightforward argument in a term paper. Japanese textual styles are quite indirect, they must lead but not push the reader towards the point. It takes a lot of effort for these students to learn new structures, but I always admonish them, that's the whole point of learning foreign languages, so you can learn to think in new ways.
I sometimes show these students an old standard journalistic technique, "pyramid style." It's much more practically oriented so they catch on to it immediately. The first paragraph of the story, the "lead," must have all the important facts, who what when where why how. The facts are presented in the order of importance, with no conclusion at all. This style is primarily intended for the convenience of editors, who can lop off a few paragraphs at the end and not lose anything important.
There are many other valid structures for stories and libraries of stories. The reason I'm describing these in detail is because I'm fed up with Radio 's outline-centric structure. It is amazing how much Dave can blather about how his awesome algorithms are changing the world, but it is clear that he's oblivious to what he's really doing. There are professional writers, editors, linguists, and librarians who have studied these ideas for decades, but Dave has no use for them, he's too busy trying to change the web to reflect his own scattered thinking processes. There is an old hacker saying, "the Street finds its own uses for things." The "semantic web" will not be created by coders like Dave, it might happen with his tools, but certainly not in the way that he designed it to work. The world has moved on since Dave wrote his first outliner, but he has not.
People have far too much to say about the TiVo, but I noticed one effect that maybe nobody else has. I have 2 DirecTV decoders, one is attached to the Tivo in my office, one is in the family room just playing live DirecTV on the big XBR2 with surround sound. I discovered what I call The TiVo Effect, it happens when 2 different people watch the same show, one on TiVo and one in realtime. For example, I'm on pause in the office, the show has buffered about 50 minutes ahead because I was watching something else. I start watching the show, sometimes I pause and go into the other room for a minute where someone is watching the final scenes of the show, and I have to avert my eyes and get away or I'll get a spoiler. Sometimes I do see a spoiler.
I tried to talk my sister into getting a TiVo but she wouldn't hear of it, since it records and reports viewing patterns. She objected to paying a subscription fee for the privilege of having TiVo watch you. She has a point.
But the battle for metrics has moved to another plane. Arbitron is testing new media ratings metrics collection systems. They intend to insert inaudible watermark audio codes into programming, to be collected by a pager-sized device that listens and records any watermarked audio within earshot. It can tell what TV or radio station you're tuned to, and perhaps can even detect when you're listening to watermarked CDs. With a little GPS technology, they can see if you're sitting still or moving around in your car listening to the radio. They can collect an audio profile of what you see and hear, and where you were when you saw or heard it. They want more information about what media you encounter outside the home, mostly ratings for commercials. It is like every media you encounter will have a bar code, and you are the scanner. And the Arbitron people want to hand these out, have people wear them and plug in at night and upload all the data. It reminds me of Rudy Rucker's "Dreamland," everyone plugs in the socket behind their ear at night and dreams the social subconscious, through computer mediation. We're teaching the computer what is in our field of consciousness.
But one thing I have noticed, in years of working with measurement systems. When you develop a method of documenting a system's performance, and make management decisions based on that documentation, the system somehow adapts to looking good on paper, to the detriment of its performance in the real world. People become more concerned with how their ratings look, than whether or not the measurements actually are measuring anything real or useful.
I got a new batch of design magazines lately, and oh boy are they great. I spend lots and lots of money on design magazines, it's really expensive too because I buy lots of imported Japanese graphics magazines that cost $20 or $25 a pop. I could have bought a lot of hardware for the price of the magazines on my shelf. And when I say new, I mean these just arrived 2 months after release, but are full of tips that will not arrive generally into the western hemisphere for years, Japan is definitely about 3 years ahead of the rest of the world in graphic design, and I'm just 2 or 3 months behind that. I'm definitely not going to tell you the names of the magazines where I find my favorite tips, that's my secret. But I'm not sure it would do anyone any good to look at them anyway, you have to be pretty fluent to get the details.
But sometimes you get a really great freebie too. I could not believe the free catalog from Design Within Reach. Wow. All your designer furniture fantasies in one catalog. Eames bent wood furniture, including the famous recliner that will probably forevermore be known as the Fraisier Crane chair (no fair, I saw it first). Mies van der Rohe strappy leather minimalist chairs. Breuer chairs in chrome plated steel tubing and thin flat leather planes. Noguchi tables and sofas. Forget the Aeron, I want the Eames Soft Pad Chair, a steal at only $2100. But when I got to this picture of a Le Corbusier armchair, I burst into tears. I saw the Warhol-Basquiat poster hanging on the wall, and I was momentarily overwhelmed by a flood of memories of the times when Warhol and Basquiat died. In both cases, I was inconsolable, and cried and cried for weeks. Darn it, I had to wipe away a tear right now. It seemed that when they died, the universe spoke up and said there's no place for an artist like them, and maybe not for you either. But I digress.
The le Corbu armchair is an interesting reversal, you are a square peg and the chair is a round hole. It is the embodiment of le Corbu's eccentric "modulor" scheme of relating architectural scale to the scale of the human body. It's just like all of le Corbu's works, an assault on your personal space. It's too deep and too short, and he made it this way deliberately. You could maybe lie down on it if it were deeper or wider, but every single proportion is made to tell your body one thing: you're not built to sit in this chair. On the other hand, the severe Bauhaus designs look like a forbidding, angular metal sculpture, but are very comfortable.
While le Corbu was influential, I think he was a major crackpot and megalomaniac. He wanted to do crazy things like level Paris and construct a planned community that was more reminiscient of the Reichsplatz than the City of Lights. Stupid designs like this le Corbu chair were the death of Modernism.
There's a been a one-legged robin hopping around in my back yard for the last couple of weeks, but it's been missing for the past few days. It used to hop around in the grass balancing on its one good leg, picking at bugs. I wonder what happened to it, I think it was chased away by aggressive Purple Martins. Whenever I saw the poor robin, I thought of the story of Cher Ami.
Cher Ami was a carrier pigeon of the US Army Signal Corp, it delivered the message of the Lost Battaliion. The story was recently featured in the TBS made-for-cable movie The Lost Battalion. It follows the path of Cher Ami as he is carried deep into enemy territory in a wicker backpack. The battalion was cut off in enemy territory, lost, bombarded by their own artillery, and could not get a message back to HQ for relief from friendly and enemy fire. Cher Ami was the last pigeon the force carried, it was their last chance to send a message. The movie shows his release, the Germans loosed a volley of small arms fire, hitting the pigeon in the breast and leg. Cher Ami arrived at HQ with the message capsule dangling from his half-detached leg. For meritorious service above and beyond the call of duty, including 12 successful flights during the Battle of Verdun, Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm. Cher Ami survived but succumbed to his wounds after a few months. He was preserved and is on display at the Smithsonian, standing proudly on one leg.
I had a good laugh over a recent blog item by Tom Tomorrow, commenting on a community fighting excessive noise from ice cream trucks playing jingles too loud. He said he used to live in an apartment right above the spot where an ice cream truck parked every day. It reminded me of a memory I totally suppressed.
When I lived in Downtown Los Angeles in the loft district, I lived right next to the ice cream truck depot that served all of East LA. It was known to the locals as Ice Cream Land. This was no ordinary depot, this was the place where the most decrepit ice cream trucks in the city loaded up in the morning, and came back to park at night. And these were no ordinary trucks, they were converted from ancient US Post Office mail trucks. During the summer, all day long the trucks came and went, playing garbled tunes from broken tape recorders. It was like a continuous parody of ice cream trucks all day long.
But that wasn't the worst part of Ice Cream Land. Oh no, not by a long shot. Every night the trucks emptied out their unsold wares back into the freezers, and cleaned out their trucks. Every night there would be new rivers of rancid, sugary milk flowing down the sidewalks and down the gutters. After baking in the sun the next day, the concrete would turn black, leaving a permanent stain to join the thousands of other stains. The sidewalks were completely blackened in some places. The stench was absolutely unbearable, and rancid milk is the one odor I hate the most. 20 years ago, I had a short job installing computerized milk fat testers at a dairy in Dubuque, Iowa, I haven't been able to drink milk since that day, and even the faint odor of sour milk makes me queasy and brings back horrible memories of the odors of that place. But now I had to live with that smell every summer day. And I had to walk past Ice Cream Land twice a day on my way to and from work, trying to find bare patches of unstained concrete so I wouldn't track that horrible smell around on my shoes all day.
If anyone had seen Ice Cream Land in its natural state, they would never buy off an ice cream truck ever again.
I found an old Polaroid photo of my art studio on Traction Avenue, in the center of the downtown LA artist's district. Notice the tall ceilings with huge beams, this place was gigantic, about 2000 square feet. I used to ride my skateboard around inside my studio, turning figure-eights around the support columns. This is just the one small corner of the studio I used for preparatory painting. I used to work on bigger paintings on the other wall and I could stand back 50 feet from my paintings and get a good look from a distance.
I liked to paint preparatory works on paper tacked to the wall, looks like I've started an underpainting. My pallette and brushes are on top of an old hospital-bed cart, which seems to be the preferred pallete table in art studios everywhere. Down in the lower right corner are some high powered track lights that I never finished installing once I discovered how hot they got.
This studio is legendary for many reasons, it was one of the most hotly contested studio spaces on Traction Avenue. I went back to visit a couple years ago, the whole area is now gentrified. My old studio is now a used CD store.
Back when I worked at a top LA graphics service bureau around 1990 or so, I got a job from one of our regular customers, an independent designer. He produced product packaging with Adobe Illustrator and he did a lot of expensive large format Iris inkjet output. One day I load up his new Iris job, and what the hell is this? I'm looking at detailed flexography stencils for 7up, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, and Coke bottles. Except the logos in this comp are not placed on pop bottles, they're on baby bottles. Now hold it just a minute. I philosophically and morally object to putting a corporate logo 2 inches from a 1 day old infant's eyes. I wouldn't want a child's first visual experience when their eyes begin to focus to be a huge Coke or 7Up logo with a nipple on it. AND, at this very time, there was a huge boycott of Nestle over baby formula problems in third world countries, and soda pop bottlers were accused of involvement in widespread infant malnutrition. Mothers who couldn't find clean water to make infant formula were using 7Up and other soda instead of water. Infants were often fed straight sugary and caffeinated soda pop with the formula, and it had horrible health effects on the very young infants. And the more I thought about this job, the more reasons I could find to loathe it, I would not participate in producing anything related to this product. So I took this job-from-hell straight to the boss and showed it to him. I said I am NOT doing this job. He heard my objections, and he was pretty horrified when he stopped to think about it. So my boss called the designer and told him to get down to the shop, we wanted to talk to him. I ran his job up on my screen, brought him in to look at it (like we often did when customers watched Iris jobs run) and then I started yelling at him, what the hell is this? I told him that we had certain standards, we didn't work on porn, and we didn't do obscene jobs like this. I stated in no uncertain terms that this was the sickest thing anyone had ever submitted to our shop, and I told him why. He seemed astonished, the more I explained my objections to this product, the more horrified a look he got on his face. He took a moment, and then told me this was not for mass production, it was a one-off unique item, it was to be used as a prop in a movie scene, to poke fun at someone who would feed soda pop to infants. I told him I would hold his job and consider printing it if he was really telling me the truth, but still I thought he was lying. And besides, if he put this image in the mass media, it would probably influence people to want to purchase the real Coke and 7Up baby bottles. He said I should not worry about it, the film was crap and sure to flop, hardly anyone would see the bottle. I was not feeling any better about this job. I took it to the boss, who eventually made the decision to go ahead and print, but only after another long phone call with the client.
So about 6 months later, I am in the checkout line at some big department store, and standing right next to the counter, what do I see? A big display rack of 7Up, Coke, Dr. Pepper, and other assorted plastic baby bottles. Lying bastard designer! Fortunately about this time quit and I moved to San Francisco and went to work at a better prepress shop, with fewer scumbag clients like that, we typeset stuff like RE:Search books, Rainforest Action Network pamphlets, etc, I was a much happier graphics geek.
"Describes a primitive programming style, one in which the programmer relies on the computer's processing power instead of using his or her own intelligence to simplify the problem, often ignoring problems of scale and applying naive methods suited to small problems directly to large ones. The term can also be used in reference to programming style: brute-force programs are written in a heavyhanded, tedious way, full of repetition and devoid of any elegance or useful abstraction."I first heard this term in basic Computer Science courses, the classic example is a "brute force search" of a database. Instead of using a clever index system, the brute force method examines every single record and checks for a match, one by one. The method relies on the brute force of manually processing every single record. It is time consuming, but sometimes necessary when the indexes contain errors.
I recently had a very disorienting experience while watching TV commercials. A computer graphic effect showed the camera's viewpoint zooming in from a position orbiting earth, down to a viewpoint of a few people on the ground, then zoomed back again to high orbit. It is a dramatic effect, and very popular because more than one commercial uses this effect. And that was the disorienting thing. I saw two different commercials using this same effect, back to back. The first commercial runs through its camera motion, ending with a view of a starry sky. And then the second commercial starts with a view of a starry sky, and zooms through almost the same motion again. I felt like I orbited earth twice in 60 seconds.
I first read about this CG design from Ted Nelson's Computer Lib book, he called it a hypermap. He only envisioned a 1-dimensional zoom, but later innovators created schemes that would allow you to zoom in on any spot on earth at any level of resolution, add links to other datasets (i.e. rainfall) and map them over a globe generated from realtime satellite imagery. Much of this technology is adapted from military satellite photoreconnaisance technologies, not just mapping but all computer graphics technology generally. A group of artists and scientists trying to hypermap the globe, but the most powerful expression of this technology is still military.
I told someone that I felt like I had made some real accomplishments this week, I made two suggestions for new features in a couple of big products, and both were adopted as new features. She said, "oh, so did you get paid anything for this?" Well of course I didn't.
I was a snowboarder and skateboarder from an early age, I knocked out my two front baby-teeth out while skating on an old skinny skateboard with hard clay wheels (like the old four-wheel roller skates). I still own a nice Sims ultra fat skateboard that I bought at Val Surf, back around 1985 when I lived in the San Fernando Valley and there was only ONE Val Surf, the one in my neighborhood, and everyone in my neighborhood skated (even the old farts like me). All my friends in LA were skaters or surfers. It's not like I'm biased against the sport, I love these sports, but I recognize them for what they are, just plain fun and a big goof. And that is the point.
I like to digitize my old vinyl punk rock albums and convert them to CDs and mp3s. It can be quite a challenge, some of these indie records were pressed poorly and sounded like crap when they were brand new, let alone after 25 years of listening. Some of them were recorded in weird ways (like "fake stereo"), and it's hard to capture that ragged sound. But that's the sound I know and love, so I want to preserve it. With some digital audio restoration, I can do wonderful things to my favorite old music, and give it new life in digital format.
I can't believe it, the high today was 67 degrees, and it's been like this all winter, it's only snowed twice here in Iowa. It's the end of February and today I ran into a honeybee outside.