Thursday, April 29, 2004

Dream Houses

Some people's hallucinatory abodes are more fantastical than others: "Bizarrchitecture" via the magic of PhotoShop.

(via boing boing)
A Moment in Time

1966: "a shorn BEATLE tries it on his own," via Look Magazine

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Quote of the Day

"...The moral black hole of the current administration exerts its gravity over my most personal acts.

"I wake to casualty reports. We are feeding our young people into a machine designed to do nothing more than supply energy to the delusions of our government. It was a long time ago, but I remember Vietnam. There was not then and there is not now a military solution. In their terrible arrogance, the Bush administration is about to discover this fact. Mark my words, there will be an ignominious withdrawal from Baghdad that, while the PR will be better managed, will reprise the evacuation of Saigon in 1975. There is an inevitability here that Sophocles would savor--his problem as a writer, though, would be to find a single character with the dignity--which is to say, self knowledge--to qualify as a tragic figure. Our current administration and its war would probably amount to nothing more than a satyr play, a comic interlude demonstrating the results of folly--the confusion of morality when lust and anger overpower reason and compassion." --Joseph Duemer

Read more at Reading & Writing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Can You Tesser?

A friend of mine is interested in quantum physics, higher dimensions and so forth, and can actually discuss it intelligently. I also find this stuff interesting, though I'm more at the "gee whiz" level of watching PBS documentaries on string theory. After a recent e-mail exchange about "transactional analysis" in quantum mechanics, and speculation about time and distance being merely ways of "ordering the world," I said:

"But can it take me to Alpha Centauri and get me home for tea?"

"Only if you can tesser," he replied.

All of which reminded me of a gallery I stumbled across online, which features images generated using "eight-dimensional algebra." Take a look if you're in the mood to see some bizarre blobs from the twilight zone: Octonion Gallery #1

Monday, April 26, 2004

Word of the Day

sternutation (n)

The act or sound of sneezing

The omnipresent Tabby seemed to delight in Humphrey's sternutation.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Les Fleurs du Mal

I'm not much of a gardener, but I'd like to visit the new Poison Garden that's about to open in Britain. The "venomous and hallucinogenic" patch will feature such dangerous plants as henbane, mandrake, hemlock, deadly nightshade, cocaine, strychnine, etc. "Harking back to medieval times, but with a toxic arsenal that a witch or apothecary could only dream of, the project includes shrubs and creepers so potentially nasty that the designers have suggested growing some of them in cages." Kewl.

(via The Invisible Library)
Random Acts of Poetry


The antique halls
of my mother's house
swarm with wagon wheels

and cannons,
drum and fife--
the sanitized, bloodless icons

of slaughter preserved
beneath a sugar glaze.
Ragged flags

flap endlessly
amid a crowd of cracked bells
and crucified eagles

clutching their fatal arrows.
Stars conscripted
to some deadly purpose

fall ceiling to floor,
interrupted only by windows,
from which the soft day

streams in,
plays with the curtain gauze
and whispers of peace.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Monotony Mania

There's something weirdly intriguing about the dullest blog in the world. Is it a joke or a sort of zen writing exercise?

(via fait accompli)
Note to Self

When I was a child, all was mysterious. The line between fantasy and reality was not always clear. I was inquisitive about the ways of the world and full of questions. As I got older, I began to realize that not every question has an answer, or at least that I wasn't capable, yet, of finding all the answers. Maybe I got tired of waiting for wisdom, or distracted by more mundane matters. These days, I'm asking all sorts of questions again, but wondering where to start. Perhaps the way to begin is to simply pay more attention—to what can be read in the eyes of a loved one, for example, but also to the meaning I find in a tree, the sky, a piece of wood, a stone. In art. Until I learn to be attentive to these things, to live in the present and really see what's before me, I'll never know what lies behind them.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

People of the Future?

The scary prospect of genetic engineering raises the question of just what forms future humans (and other mammals) may take. Human Descent offers some disturbing possibilities, thanks to the magic of PhotoShop. Pointed ears may be the least of it. (via memepool)

(This picture is here because as a teenager I had a crush on Grace Lee Whitney)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Close Encounter

I visited the local computer-repair shop today, and while I was waiting for my hard drive to be reformatted, I read the newspaper. The technician who was helping me, who happened to be an Egyptian immigrant, asked to see the front page and then made a comment about the November elections. "I like Bush better," he said. "Better than that other guy."

"Kerry?" I said.

"Yeah. Bush just seems a lot stronger."

I smiled but said nothing and turned the page.

It seemed odd to me that being "stronger" would be someone's criterion for choosing who to vote for, but the more I thought about it, the more explicable it seemed. To many people from pseudo-democracies, which is my impression of Egypt (and, oh, Texas, for that matter), ethical considerations or even policy positions must seem beside the point. All that matters is who is "stronger"--who can best manipulate the system and make the trains run on time. I wonder how many American voters, out of the majority who don't pay all that much attention to the news, feel the same.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Word of the Day

bloviate (v)

to write or speak windily and verbosely

"I am reluctant to question Horace," Natalia said, glancing nervously at the cuckoo clock. "He has such a tendency to bloviate."


More pedestrian art: Norwegian manhole covers

Monday, April 19, 2004

Street Mandalas

A collection of manhole covers from around the globe reminds us that there is a hidden world beneath our feet. They're varied and sometimes artistic, especially the covers from Ireland ("Gaelic") and Morocco.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Story Time

You never know what you'll find at the excellent Tack-O-Rama website, which is mostly a collection of retro images from the 40s and 50s. Amazingly, though, there's also a J.D. Salinger short story there that the site's owner found in an out-of-print book: "This Sandwich Has No Mayonnaise." Apparently, it appears nowhere else, online or off. Holden Caulfied is referred to in the story, though it's not the Holden of The Catcher in the Rye. Interesting reading.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Where have I gone wrong?

I'm now into my third year of running the most unpopular blog on the internet.

Total number of unique visitors (since March 10th 2002): 7,558
Average visitors per day: 10
Highest number per day: 41
Average per week: 66
Highest week: 152
Average per month: 290
Highest month: 557
According to Google, I have 41 inbound links.

I'm so very tired of hearing bloggers complain that they "only" get 30 to 50 visitors per day. Anyone have any secrets to share on building readership in this medium? I realize I don't have the most winning personality in the world (story of my life), but I have a feeling there is some other fundamental problem here.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Chimerical Abode

I have a thing for dream houses (meaning domiciles that exist in the mind as much as the world), and the rather conceptual Loft Cube seems phantasmagorical enough. I wouldn't mind living in one, although an old saying about people who live in glass houses comes to mind.

(via The Presurfer)
The Madness of King George, continued

"Given the stakes in Iraq and the war against terrorism, it would be petty to poke fun at Bush for calling credibility 'incredibly important.' His routine misuse of the word 'incredible,' while illiterate, is harmless. His misunderstanding of the word 'credible,' however, isn't harmless. It's catastrophic."

To W, credibility means never having to say you're sorry. Read more of William Saletan's Slate article here if you're at all interested in what goes on in the president's brain.

("Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain.")

Saletan seems to be the leading journalistic psychoanalyst on the Bush beat. He has another trenchant piece on the subject here.

Relevant to all this, I think, is the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I once worked for someone with NPD, and every day was a mental scourging. I wonder if that's what working in the White House is like for some people these days.

(via Bad Attitudes, via

More on "Mad King George": Things Fall Apart

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Word of the Day

obnubilate (v)

To becloud or obscure

The witness's long, discursive answers served to obnubilate the issues.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A Voice from the Past

Listen to golden-age radio shows, mostly from the 30s to the 50s, in MP3 format at There are comedies (I didn't know there was a radio version of I Love Lucy), dramas, mysteries, variety shows, westerns, science-fiction/superhero serials and music. There's even a Benny Goodman show from, they say, October 11th 1904. It's news to me that radio (as opposed to wireless telegraph) even existed back then.
Just What the World's Been Waiting For

Here's a gift idea for the sexy religious fanatic in your life: Christian Panties. The Seven Deadly Sins series includes undergarments emblazoned with "Lust!" and "Envy!" Also available: "Christian Wrestling Hotshorts." I didn't know there was anything particularly Christian about wrestling, let alone underwear, but whatever.

The "Miss Poppy Dixon" site also offers such "Godly Toys & Curiousities" as hand cream for washing away sins, Jesus action figures, retro Bible tracts and "Nunzilla, the fire-breathing nun."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


Here's an odd project that several blogs are promoting today:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

1. The nearest book is The Chicago Manual of Style. Sorry it's such a boring tome. What can I say? I'm an editor.

2. Page 23 discusses how illustrations should be listed in the front matter of a book.

3. "A diagrammatic representation of two hypothetical simple acts of communication"

That is not a complete sentence, but the page only includes four complete sentences, at the bottom.

4. Done.

I'd be interested to know what "hypothetical simple acts of communication" are and how they would be diagrammed. The manual provides no clue, as it's referring to a hypothetical illustration. I picture two kids with tin cans and a string.

(via things)

Monday, April 12, 2004

Help Yourself

Here's a list of websites that contain text and images that are copyright free. Did you know that Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain?

(via geekman)

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Idle Chatter

A: Easter is crap. How could somebody come back from the dead? That's crazy. That's superstition.

B: Oh, I don't know. I've come back from the dead a few times, I think.

A: Huh?

B: I've been there. Been down so far I thought I could never get up. I've seen the bottom.

A: Now you're getting all symbolic on me.

B: Metaphorical.

A: Whatever! You're talking about despair. I'm talking about dead. As in kickin it. Buying the farm. Deceased.

B: You're talking about the body. I'm talking about the mind.

A: Oh, well, I guess you've gone and come back a few times then.

B: Yeah, I lost it, you know. Lost my mind. Was lost and then found.

A: But that's not like being dead.

B: It's worse than being dead.

A: How would you know?

B: There's no such thing as "being" dead. If you're dead, you're not "being" at all.

A: Now you're playing games. Word games.

B: There are some things that words cannot express. Some experiences. You have to use metaphors.

A: So you don't think anybody can come back from the dead?

B: If they did, would you believe they were ever really dead?

A: No.

B: Well, there you are. No one comes back. They never really went.

A: It just seems like it.

B: On a certain level. In a certain way of looking at it.

A: No miracles then. No Easter.

B: Oh, I didn't say that. What's a miracle? You pull up a weed and another weed grows in its place.

A: But it's not the same weed.

B: That's it, isn't it? This idea that it has to be the same one. What does it mean to be the same? Am I the "same" person I was 10 years ago?

A: Similar.

B: But not the same.

A: No.

B: And what kind of person never changes?

A: A dead one.

B: Mmm hmm.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Word of the Day

haptic (adj)

1. relating to or based on the sense of touch
2. characterized by or favoring the sense of touch

"You will please keep your hands to yourself," Clara murmured to the haptic Mr. Weems.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Road Kill

Easter approaches, which means I'll be spending a lot of time in the car on Friday.

Five times a year, for all the major holidays, I drive 250 miles north along the New York State Thruway to visit my parents. It's a picturesque route though the Catskills and Adirondacks, past throngs of maple trees and crowded pines, cows loitering on hillsides, decrepit barns and peeling Victorian houses. But after the first 50 miles or so, the bucolic scenery starts to become monotonous, and I begin to notice a much less pleasant aspect of the landscape: the amazing amount of animal carnage along the highway.

At 70 miles per hour, the torn-up woodchucks, shattered porcupines and squashed possums are unidentifiable as specific creatures. They resemble shapeless, furry purses--split open, spilling their gunk onto the concrete. I always wonder: Where did these tiny beasts think they were going when they ventured out onto the rock-strip that interrupts nature from horizon to horizon? Where was it that they never got to?

The cars swish past, indifferent, maniacal for destinations. Some swerve to avoid the bodies, others allow their tires to pound them. And others, of course, commit these small atrocities, smashing and smearing without a second thought, toting up the death toll.

A childhood memory often comes back as I observe this impromptu butchery: being in the car on a dark, wintry day, my father driving, seeing a deer emerge from the woods, oblivious to us as it scooted for the other side. The road was icy, we couldn't stop, we hit the deer. I recall the dull thud as the body bounced off the front fender, then seeing the tawny shape by the side of the road--crumpled, staring upward in frozen astonishment. We drove off to find a phone and call the state game department. By the time we got back, 20 minutes later, the deer was gone. I assumed it became venison for some previously luckless hunter.

"Deer crossing" signs are frequent in Upstate New York, an official recognition of one aspect of the slaughter along the highways. The signs address a human, not an animal, problem: it's a matter of helping drivers to avoid the largest creatures, the ones that cause traffic accidents. Speed kills, the bounding deer on the wordless sign reminds us, without regard to beast or man.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Free Association

I've run dry for the moment, so why not engage in a bit of stream-of-consciousness nonsense? The important thing is to keep writing, I think.


To appraise is reflection: you must eat these leftovers. Possibly, to have a name shuts down everything, including all indications that come; they give privilege. The transports for the relative authorization of the accumulation of the age indicate that the outside and the colors of today center around the interior of a heart, but if so, why move senselessly? Why be ignited? The way to protection is rigid, unlike a flow of honey. You request something to distract you from the relative abundance of direction--something complete at the moment of lowest superficial intensity, keeping in mind the view from the door. The form, therefore, must be extremely decreased, or gone behind, even when it works.

(I added the title after I finished this. It seemed to fit, somehow.)

Monday, April 05, 2004

Word of the Day

nescience (n)

1. Absence of knowledge or awareness; ignorance
2. Agnosticism

When the conversation turned to Theosophy, Malcolm took great pride in his nescience.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry


The streets fill with eyes:
morning rush, hot light,
already squinting.

By afternoon, eyes everywhere,
invading offices, lusting over lunches,
resting on screens, behind lenses,

making easy judgments.
They have their glassy mystery,
these dark jewels

reflecting a universe.
So much to read in a glance:
a knife peeling

layers of justification,
some inexhaustible mind
possessing millions of eyes,

free to assume
behind shields of lids, thick lashes.
They have their affinities:

paired irises growing and shrinking,
browns, blues
ambivalent grays,

and the reds, grieving--
hurts, frustrations living in eyes
spilling emotion,

years folded in wrinkles,
convolutions, dry river beds
circling whirlpools,

ink holes, bottomless wells,
darkened planetariums,
black marbles,

eyes that blink away
every facade, situation,
and rest at night on nothing.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Madness of King George, continued

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! 'The Wizard of Oz Letter' strips away the myth that Bush is in charge.


Friday, April 02, 2004


Torture, mutilation, flying fish and insect people, heaven and hell, and the bottomless well of the imagination. What are we to make of the medieval paintings of Hieronymous Bosch? Beats me, but I find their intricate, surreal landscapes, filled with curiously blank-faced (and often naked) humans, fascinating.

(via Breaching the Web)


Another thing I like to look at: lamps, especially when they have unusual shades. To me, they have a spiritual quality, apart from any utility they have as decor or lighting. (It's an nicely designed website, too.)

(via boing boing)


The front page: Coverage of September 11th by newspapers around the world.

(via things)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

My Type of Place

The island of San Serriffe
Word of the Day

foudroyant (adj)

Dazzling, stunning

The Amazing Zachary's foudroyant stunt drew gasps from the gawkers.