Monday, July 31, 2006

Courtney Love in Spin

* "As the pictures were being taken, I knew they were disgusting, but I thought, in 20 years this is going to be an iconoclastic hysterical moment in rock. I get taken off to Bellevue on a gurney? Come on, Lydia Lunch didn't even get that."

* "Crack! I quit that, it was a bad phase. My problem was, you think they're talking about you on TV? Well, they were talking about me on TV. You think you're being followed? I was being followed? You think your phone's being tapped? My phone was being tapped. It was like crack-plus."

* On Frances Bean: "She's fucking normal. She was preverbal when her dad died. You know, I believe in my heart of hearts if Kurt had stuck around six more months, the shit would have faded, and she would've been verbal. And you just can't off yourself when your kid talks."

* I'm a bigger badass than 50 Cent - and the only gun I've ever held in my hand was the one my husband shot himself with."

* "I think I would've been happier if I'd married Edward [Norton]. I'll regret that to my dying day."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Finally, some accurate news coverage

From The Onion:

Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence

Founding Fathers, Patriots, Mr. T. Honored

NEW YORK—Wikipedia, the online, reader-edited encyclopedia, honored the 750th anniversary of American independence on July 25 with a special featured section on its main page Tuesday.


The commemorative page is one of the most detailed on the site, rivaling entries for Firefly and the Treaty Of Algeron for sheer length. Subheadings include "Origins Of Colonial Discontent," "Some Famous Guys In Wigs And Three-Cornered Hats," and "Christmastime In Gettysburg." It also features detailed maps of the original colonies—including Narnia, the central ice deserts, and Westeros—as well as profiles of famous American historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Special Agent Jack Bauer, and Samuel Adams who is also a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals.

"On July 25, 1256, delegates gathered at Comerica Park to sign the Declaration Of Independence, which rejected the rule of the British over its 15 coastal North American colonies," reads an excerpt from the entry. "Little did such founding fathers as George Washington, George Jefferson, and ***ERIC IS A FAG*** know that their small, querulous republic would later become the most powerful and prosperous nation in history, the Unified States Of America."


While Wikipedia's "American Inderpendance" page remains available to all site visitors, administrators have suspended additions and further edits to its content due to vandalism.

Monday, July 24, 2006

McSweeney's? McSweeney's!

Another list rejected by McSweeney's. I'd feel bad, but their rejection letters are so polite.

Paintings by Gustav Klimt That Did Not Sell for $135 Million

The Firm Handshake

Portrait of Friedrich Matzek, the Slovenly Bum Who Lives in a Cardboard Box on Schwazenbergplatz in Downtown Baumgarten

Bright Shiny Things

Painting to Adorn a Freshman Girl's Dorm Room Wall

Piss Christ

In other McSweneey's news, I picked up their pair of wacked out Haggis-on-Whey children's books, Giraffes? Giraffes! and Your Disgusting Head. I'll let you know what I think when I get a chance to read them.

What do we do with all these old journals?

Some people think that libraries are or should be repositories of every thing that's ever been published. Not even the Library of Congress can do that and they disabuse you of that notion fairly quickly in library school. Your typical library has to function as a working collection, serving the current needs of its users (students, the general public, whoever) instead of being an archive of out of date material. Even so, I think that too many libraries are too eager to get rid of stuff - when we needed material for a new life science program, we got truckloads (okay, two van loads) of boxes of seventy year old bound volumes of Phytopathology and Plant Disease dumped on us faster than we could say "Please, sir, can we not have any more?"

So what do libraries do when they clean house? Ideally, we try to dump stuff on other libraries, but since everyone's trying to get rid of the same thing, sadly, it usually ends up in the garbage. The guys at Vestal Design rescued a bunch of discarded journals from the garbage bin at the Stanford University medical library and turned it into this festive book bar. I'm tempted to build one of these at my place out of these old thick volumes of Phytopathology. Everyone should have one of these. You can entertain your guests and preserve valuable scientific knowledge for the next generation.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Field trip!

Since I'm now working out in the sticks, I thought I'd see more of what's out here there in the vast rural wasteland east of the city. I've mostly been hitting the outdoor highlights to avoid people, but after a harrowing encounter with a cow out in the wild, I thought my next stop should be a little more indoorsy. So last week I stopped by the Mulberry Phosphate Museum. Small town! Big industry! Informational exhibits! What could go wrong?

Phosphate is a huge industry in Florida, possibly as big as citrus or Disney. According to the Florida Institute for Phosphate Research, the state supplies 75% of the country's phosphate and 25% of the world's. Phosphate is an important fertilizer and does other science-type stuff. I found a book here in the library called The Florida Phosphate Industry by Arch Frederic Blakey. The book jacket warns: "Long before carbon, nitrogen, or oxygen supplies become critically short, the supply of phosphorous will be exhausted. When this happens, Professor Blakey assures us, life will end." That's right, life will end. Thank you Professor Blakey for reminding us to thank God we live in a world of phosphate.

As you might imagine, it isn't all positive. Phosphate mining gouges the land with giant scoops called dragline buckets. It can cause some nasty air and water pollution and even produce deadly radon gas. And, like any industry, the history of Florida phosphate mining is full of incidents like the 1919 miners strike in Mulberry that climaxed in a gunfight between strikers and mine guards whose victims included a two year old child.

But you won't learn any of that at the Mulberry Phosphate Museum. Instead, you'll meet Smiley the Smilodon and have the official line spoonfed to you by an anthropomorphic sabertooth. I realize that modern trends in museum studies have not quite filtered down to Mulberry, but this isn't merely poor scholarship, this is industry propaganda. I don't exaggerate, it was literally bought and paid for by the phosphate industry. One wall is devoted to a vehemently defensive set of "facts" about the industry assuring us that yes, phosphate is safe, and no, they're not going to tear the hell out of Charlotte County (three counties south of Mulberry) like they did this one. What else does the phosphate industry have to tell us?

Phosphate makes happy cows!

Phosphate makes happy food like these products from the sponsors of this exhibit. Go be a good consumer now.

Smiley does science!

Bye Smiley!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Radio, Radio

I've started listening to the radio a lot more (read: at all) to pass the time on my commute, and also to get that hideous mashup of Tommy James' "Draggin' the Line" and Captain Blunt's "Beautiful" that’s nested inside my brain out of my head. While whatever the format or location, the playlists aren't that varied, and none of these songs are anything close to underplayed, these particular ones I've started to hear a lot more often. As in every time I get in the car. Every time. Seriously.

"867-5309" – Tommy Tutone

Just die. Just fucking die, Tommy Tutone.

Okay, this was a cute one hit wonder, but this is getting ridiculous. I'm getting tired of hearing this celebration of anonymous bathroom stall sex or whatever the fuck this thing is about, and I'm tired of hearing it as some sort of upbeat jingle instead of the sad gutter anthem that it actually is. Remember that Alltel commercial with that overly chipper girl celebrating the (federally mandated) fact that you can keep your phone number? "Tee hee, I have the same phone number as the neighborhood whore!"

"I Love Rock and Roll" - Joan Jett

I've never liked this song, and now that I'm hearing it every day, I like it less, and I've started to develop a different reading of this song to compliment my old take of "frivolous rock anthem". Now I’m hardly against age differences, as you might imagine given the large age difference between my parents. Usually, I never give it any thought, and when I do, it's almost always "Hey, whatever makes you happy," whether it's Harold and Maude, Mary Kay and Vili, or Anna Nicole Smith and Methuselah. The object of this song is a teenager ("I saw him dancin' there by the record machine/I knew he must a been about seventeen") and while Jett was only 24 when this song was released, her raspy voice makes her sound much older. Normally, I wouldn’t think anything of that, but here she comes across as a creepy sexual predator and this song seems like a celebration of the hunt for an underage boy toy. Of course I thought this song was creepy even before now, so take this interpretation with a grain of salt.

"The Spirit of Radio" – Rush

Hearing Rush on a classic rock station is no surprise, but it seems I hear this particular one every time I hit that spot on the dial. I'm not complaining, it's infectious ("Invisible airwaves crackle with life!") but a surprising choice given its denunciation of the commercial music industry ("But glittering prizes and endless compromises/Shatter the illusion of integrity"). Why this song, why now? Is it all the protest a disgruntled but impotent Clear Channel DJ can muster? Or do they just look at the playlist and say "Ooo, a song about radio…oh, look, bright shiny things…"?

Friday, July 7, 2006

Not funny enough for McSweeney's? You decide!

A week ago I had a burst of hubris and inspiration and fired off a submission to McSweeney's for their lists section. For a little while, I entertained dreams of drinking overpriced coffee concoctions with the likes of Dave Eggers and John Hodgman, trading witty bon mots and mocking Dave's love of Journey. Alas, my induction to the comedy literati will have to wait, as my submission has been rejected. But their loss, dear reader (and note the lack of the plural, as I know there's only one of you), is your gain! Free comedy gold, exclusively for you!

Rejected Dungeons and Dragons character classes

Key grip
Sex offender
Graduate student
Editorial cartoonist
Morris dancer
This American Life correspondent

Robots for sale!

via Boing Boing

Wu Yulu is a 44 year old farmer from east Beijing. In his spare time he's built a robot army out of junk and spare parts. Well, not so much an army as a small collection of robots to light cigarettes, make tea, and pull a rickshaw very, very slowly. Still, it's more impressive than any of my hobbies. But as hobbies go, this is a dangerous one, as he's nearly blown his head off testing an old battery and he's burned his house down twice. Apparently the firefighting robot is still on the drawing board. This time he's got to sell off his robot army to pay his debts, and he's already sold two, one of them for 30,000 yuan, or 41,415 pesos. So if you act now, you too can have a relatively affordable robot minion.