Monday, December 30, 2002

Happy Holidays to All!

Since I got some cool tunes for Christmas, I'm in the mood to share some IDM sites I had bookmarked on one of the less used Lab Computers: the IDM Warp Zone has some nice links and good samples; and "the light goes green, the trap is clean" the works of one of their artists. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Words cannot describe my child-like glee. As a young boy, I was suckered into the Japanese obsession with robots by Astro Boy and Johnny Socko. As a teen, this obsession was reinforced by Robotech, Carl Masek's heavily altered version of Japan's incredibly popular Macross series. Now the same people whose car I drive have added AI to their 1.2 m robot, ASIMO (named for the originator of the genre, Isaac Asimov). The Japanese have very different image of robots than most Westerners, which I have to say I share. And finally, since it's running through my head, here's a little musical interlude.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

During my lunchtimes, I've been reading and posting messages to various Yahoo! Groups discussing evolution, which has mostly involved arguments with Creationists over what Evolution Theory really says. One of the other posters from the Evolution camp, Michael Suttkus, has collected some of the better Amateur Creationist Theories on his web-design-impared Weird Creationism page. I've seen some of these same stories from other sites, but it's still an eye-opening list to read through.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Well, nipple of the mine blows for above with the pleasure: the Mad Scientist Network is back online and accepting questions! An insoluble database error took the asking and answering forms offline on May 25, and the last 6 months have been difficult without my MadSci fix. Now the questions are pouring in, as if it had never been down, after only the first week. I haven't answered any new ones yet, but my role as moderator has kept me busy, and is often more rewarding. I moderate the Development and Evolution areas, and co-moderate Cell Biology and Molecular Biology, but I have access to the whole incoming questions list, so I can sometimes be seen purposely misleading people in areas I have no expertise in. Bwahahahahahaha!

Monday, November 25, 2002

I have long touted Albino Blacksheep as a great source for Flash animations, but while they're current, their archives are too extensive to search, especially several months out. So I was elated to find the "Fun 4 Friends" archive at Sundog Productions. They have some of my old favorites (including the piano stripper that I can't link to here), as well as some new fun, like "Elmo meets Tigger" and "Squigo" and a supposedly real Dutch commercial that's over 8 MB but worth the fun.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I should really leave this to Walter to publish, but I just can't wait. Quaker® restarted producing Quisp® a couple of years back, but they didn't start any sort of new ad campaign until recently. Behold the retro glory that is "The Adventures of Quisp" by Spümcø (headed by John Kricfalusi). Wow! Jay Ward would have been proud.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Turn is a nice visual phase piece, reminiscent of some of Steven Reich's early audio works.

I think one of these sites is meant to be a satire, but I'm not sure which: Black people love us; or Two Towers Protest.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

New Age religions make me laugh hard. I can understand believing in a supreme being and unversal codes of ethics and all, but why go to the trouble of making up your own religion, unless you plan on turning it into a pyramid scheme, like L. Ron did. Roberta-Margaret Wiggins channels Songee, which could have been a profitable enterprise if she hadn't broken one of the primal laws of webpublishing: "no first-person pet pages" - observe Colin and Elroy. "Wedge" has a much better grasp of reality, witnessed by his choosing a "Star Wars" name and publishing his favorite communication spells:

"To Communicate With Others
Write a letter to a distant friend (or whoever you wish to call you) as if you were going to mail it. Next light a blazing hot fire and throw the letter into it firmly visualising the person's face. You should receive a reply soon."

Here's an idea, "Wedge:"

"To Communicate With Others
Write a letter to a distant friend (or whoever you wish to call you) as if you were going to mail it. Next mail it. You should receive a reply soon."

Meanwhile, Heather Firth is channelling a 12-year old boy.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Last week I posted a link to Lost in Translation, by Carl Tashian, which uses a PERL script to repeatedly submit text entries to AltaVista's Babelfish until the translations have completely corrupted the text. At the time I posted it, it seemed just another humorous diversion, but now I see it as a demonstration of the dialectic nature of all languages that is a humorous diversion.

When I first got to the site, I was immediately reminded of the old Monty Python Hungarian Phrasebook Sketch, and giggled when one of the translations converted "nipples" to "nozzles." I quickly learned that some of the translation dictionary databases at Babelfish have errors(!). Using the example above, the Spanish translation for "nipple" was a word not found in any of the Spanish dictionaries I searched, including Babelfish's, since it was unable to translate the word back into English. I found that if I instead entered the phrase, "Oooh, my pezón explodes with delight," the final output, "Oooh, nipple of the mine blows for above with the pleasure" was much more satisfying.

The usual problems of article usage and noun genders of European languages are compounded in my second language, German, by Babelfish's insistence on formality: in German, the informal, "you", du, dich, dir, is obvious, while the formal, "you", Sie, Ihr, is the same as the pronouns for "she" and "they". The result being that sentences with "you" are often converted to "they". Add to this an attempt to tone down verbs, and "you love me" becomes "they appreciate."

The greatest bottleneck, historically as well as at Babelfish, appears to be translating Portuguese into Spanish. Many sentences migrate through the script unharmed until reaching one or the other of the Iberian languages, where the Hungarian Phrasebook takes over. I thought an obvious test, and one of the first things learned in most languages including Latin, would be "I love you." This faired as well as expected with the old stand-by's appearing in each language, until the Spanish converts this simplest admission of tenderness into the Inquisitional, "Master to him." In keeping with Monty Python, this should be followed by a couple in a romantic setting with the man whispering to the woman, "master to him," as she blushes and Michael Palin bursts through the door in red vestments...

Then I thought, "hey, I wonder if it does music, too?" So, I entered Beethoven's Fifth:

da da da dum
da da da dum

The French would have nothing to do with the oppressive feel of the tune, and gave it a galloping rhythm:

dum de da de da de da de dum de da de da de da

The German translator on hand was apparently Bavarian, since he interpreted this as a polka:

dum von da von da von da von dum von da von da von da

The Italian brings it back to Beethoven, but alas, it's the Minuet in G:

dum da là da là da là del dum da là da là da là

The Iberians are all lyricists at heart, and make it a poem:

Of one of here,
of here, of here,
of that it is of one,
of here, of here, of here.

I did a bit more testing and found that one of my personal favorites is the mistranslation of "I like spaghetti better than manicotti." No, the other pastas don't work...

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Escher's trickery revealed!
Friend and fellow "blogger" Ned Gulley found Andrew Lipson's LEGO™ interpretations of Escher's prints, including "Ascending and Descending." In trying to copy the print in three dimensions, Lipson found that the picture was of a spiral and not a circuit, and that the circuity was only apparent from a specific point of view. I guess the real trick is that Escher didn't build the model before carving his woodblock, so he had to mentally envision the spiral and the correct vantage to give the illusion of infinite stairs. Certainly more clever than all that fish becoming birds business. Here are some Escher quotes from Jon's "Daily Escher" calendar:

"We adore chaos because we love to produce order."

"I have sometimes heard painters say that they work 'for themselves,' but I think they would soon have painted their fill if they lived on a desert island."

"I'm starting to speak a language which is understood by very few people."

"The other day I gave a lecture to a Rotary Club in Hilversum... The audience included three medics who had made their diagnosis of my 'case' by the end of the lecture - obsessional neurosis. I suggested to my publisher that he use this as a title, but he said no."

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Yeah, boy! That sniper means business, if you know a good opportunity when you see it: like Reverend Sunshine does.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Well, my first blog. And it doesn't hurt as much as my mother told me. Hemingway? My ass. Oops. can I say that on... umm... the blog? While I'm back home in London from a little Shakespearian tour of Ireland I'm filming a little pilot I co-wrote - so here's a picture of my ass.
-sorry I can't seem to upload a picture of my bum. Butt if you're interested you could go here.
PS. I was wondering if the sniper in our Nation's Capital takes requests?
Lost in Translation:

Babelfish esteem with Alta Vista, but the relative handle nonsyntactic of the exaggerated rigidity some material problems; special after certain circulation of the translation. Carl Tashian gives to the occasion he to him stops to follow the process with some returns for you are laughing you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Chubby Arkansas mom forces daughter to eat deep fried Twinkie in attempt to make South the most obscenely obese place on the planet. Baptist pastor James "Joe" Elroy (back to camera) hopes to combat his declining membership by increasing the size of each Churchgoer: "after shunning women and science, we gotta fill those pews any way we can." Historians expect Second Civil War when corpulent South becomes dependent on Northern production of Insulin.

Friday, October 11, 2002

As I do my weekly perusal of AlbinoBlacksheep, I'm happy to see that there haven't been any more of those damned stare-at-the-picture-and-then-someone-screams posts, which all of the copycats thought were sooooo original. On the other hand, to make up for this, there have been some flashes of just someone screaming over poor animation. These are almost as annoying, so I'll post a couple (WARNING: for maximum annoyance during the viewing of these animations, do not adjust the volume beforehand. Annoyance can be eliminated through intoxication):

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

It looks like this "blog" will be expanding as two new members, Messrs. Jones and Lewis, have joined the team. I've mentioned Alex Jones in past posts, but will add here that he will be posting messages one-handed, since losing the other in a horrible dryer-riding accident. Walter Lewis is performing with the Expanded Hemingway Company, who show us the humor that should have been in the all-too-short works of Ernest Hemingway. If I'm forgetting something, gentlemen, please feel free to correct me.

While we wait for a response, I'll take this opportunity to clear out some links that have been sitting in my inbox for a while. First is Infectious Awareables, who sell neckties with patterns influenced by various pathogens and diseases. A bit too much electric blue for my tastes, but some are kinda nice looking. Next is the follow-up to some of the Gerry Anderson/Conrad Cthulhu stuff I posted a while back, it's The Skaro Toy Museum: a collection of marketing devices and merchandizing from the long-running "Doctor Who" television series that we (St. Louisans) used to watch and scoff every Sunday night back in the '80's. Finally, two sites to compare and contrast: Mumford Micro Systems and P.W.B. Electronics. Bryan Mumford refers to himself as "The Crackpot Inventor," yet has some really fun looking gadgets on his site. Peter Belt appears to be absolutely serious about his "devices," which are little more than magic markers and mylar.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Today the Nobel Committee announced the prize in Physiology and Medicine - this year's winners uncovered the role of apoptosis (programmed cell death) during development by studying the development of a nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans or C. elegans as we all call it. I mention this because one of the three laureates, Sydney Brenner, should have won the prize back in the sixties when he was the first person to identify and characterize the stop codons. In the 70's he got tired of bacteriophage and started the field of C. elegans genetics. Talk about your lifetime achievement.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

It must be Dispelling Eastern Philosophies Month at Nature Publishing Co.; after disproving out-of-body experiences two weeks ago, this week they published an article on Zen gardening, replacing centuries of Feng Shui with simple Graph Theory. The article is simple enough: researches at Kyoto University used computer modelling to study a Zen garden created 500 years ago, considered perfect by Zen masters. The researchers found that the various rocks positioned throughout the rectangular gravel bed created lines of symmetry between them that formed the shape of a tree. The irony being that for the past 500 years, people have been trying to explain the garden in terms of the rocks themselves; just as Feng Shui arranges rooms and buildings based on the items contained within. This has truly been an instance of not seeing the forest for the trees: the rocks and items are meaningless, except insofar as they define the spaces between them. While the Kyoto researchers interpret the lines as a tree - probably because of their own naturalistic biases - it is more accurate from the subconscious perspective to interpret them as paths. Our brains, like those of all vertebrates, evolved from simpler ganglia whose sole functions were to direct and coordinate locomotion. The simplest lamprey brains take in visual and olfactory cues and direct the muscles how to move to react to those cues. It is fundamental to our subconscious interpretation of the world to look for the paths between the obstacles. Western architects have known (some of them anyway) for years of the importance of not just spaces but the flow, or procession, through those spaces. The Zen garden is the ultimate example of procession: while we think it's showing us obstacles, it's really showing us the paths between them.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Some time over the past year, the biotech suppliers stopped using t-shirts as promotional tools and began offering free samples instead. This has been both a curse and a blessing, as it has all but stagnated my summer/bedtime wardrobe but driven me to find new t-shirts elsewhere. Yesterday I happened upon this offering from T-shirt Hell: WWJD... for a Klondike Bar?. Would he dress up like a clown?!

Actually, I'm saving up for my Official Rock Paper Scissors T-shirts, which are all must-haves.

Monday, September 30, 2002

Last Friday, I sent out some unsolicited spam to try to recruit some other people to join the Industry!© team. I've received no responses as yet. Maybe, I should have signed it "Candy."

Monday, September 23, 2002

Whenever I get a website through e-mail, I figure it's old news by the time I visit it. Even so, some sites bear as much web coverage as any and all of us can supply. Today's site is the Waterman Elementary List of Lunches. The complex nuances and dry wit suggest more than a little satire, while the URL suggests complete ingenuousness. For instance, compare the various "sticks" on the menu. What does "CF" stand for? Which are better, "Stuffed Shells" or "Cheese Stuffed Shells?"

My first prize gives separate link status to Italian Dunkers (ID) - those seasonal miracles on Mediterranean cuisine only available the last week of October. Tied for "most appetizing" are Taco Patty (TP) (where does the rest of the "patty" go?) and Meatball Sub (MS) (it looks like a scallop with an eye infection).

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Two quickies before I have to go off to class today:

  • On Monday I opened my e-mail to a slew of messages from the weekend, regarding an ongoing discussion of the meaning of "wanker." My late input offered "tosser" and "anorak" into the mix, which raised more questions, and somehow lead me to Mancunian English, a list of colloquialisms common to Merseyside villages. I especially like "anorak" because I have had the good fortune of seeing trainspotters on the Arsenal viaduct - a rare occurance in the automotive United States - and wondered whether they were immigrant trainspotters or natives who had taken up the hobby in a misguided attempt to be more European.
  • In this week's Nature there is a report from a group in Switzerland that was doing a pre-surgical assessment on an epileptic patient, and happened to stimulate a specific region in the right, angular gyrus, resulting in the patient having an "out-of body experience" They stimulated the region a few more times, and each stimulation resulted in the same experience. The angular gyrus is responsible for combining visual and muscle-sensory (proprioceptive) cues to create an "image" of the body in space. This means that all of "near-death experiences" and "astral projections" and such can be summed up as hyperactivity of the angular gyrus.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Busy, busy, busy. Too busy to blog?! Apparently. To make up for lost time, here are a couple of tidbits I found amusing. To start with, why do American advertisers pay billions to merge the Coca-Cola® swish with the word "vanilla" resulting in artless boredom while their Japanese counterparts pay far less to successfully beautify their milk cartons and coffee cans. The Americans should take a cue from their needlepointing mothers. Even better, they could take a course in art history and try modelling off of some famous artists (I think Roy Lichtenstein was the inspiration for "Dough" shown here).

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

More ambient fun: Music for Airports is a QuickTime™ interpretation of Brian Eno's work, very well done; The Epicentre has a nice bit of BGM from B12; and where would ambience be without some microtonal pieces from the Huygens-Fokker Foundation.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Today's lesson in Industry!© is, "why mathematicians make lousy engineers," or "fluid dynamics for grade schoolers."

Proud of their theoretical acumen, shunned by an uncaring reality, a group of glassblowing mathers are selling Klein Bottles: the volumetric versions of Möbius strips. Neat huh? So... where does the air go when you try to fill it with a liquid? Look at the mug again: it's like one of those magic pitchers that looks like it's pouring but nothing comes out. How many rounds of adding a little water, tilting the mug over, adding a little water, tilting the mug over do you think it took to get that picture?

Boy, that's a drinking experience I could miss.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

We're back from our trip, and I'm finally finished wading through my e-mails - apparently, there's this guy in Nigeria with this massive, unclaimed bankaccount, who promises to make my manhood bigger through herbal supplements. One of the more welcome posts was about my dear old friend, Conrad Cthulhu (few outsiders know his rightful givenname). As a fan of H.P. Lovecraft's goofy brand of horror, I was thrilled to read the homage at Tales of the Plush Cthulhu. You can buy your own Cthulhu plushy at the Toy Vault, which also sells plush Old Ones, mislabelled as "Nyarlethoteps" - tsk, tsk. There are also the Hello Cthulhu and PokeThulhu sites for more great Cthulhu action.


Tuesday, August 06, 2002

The wiff and I are taking the sprogs on Holiday for a fortnight, so I won't be "blogging" for a bit. To make up for the forthcoming lapse, here are some random links from various sources:

  • CiaranSkye's World is a collection of links to English slang dictionaries, including my personal fave, "What a load of codswallop, Pet."
  • Before Prohibition is a collection of medicinal labels from the days when cocaine and opiates were still legal and widely available.
  • The Gallery of Blotter Paper Art: it says something about a drug that the counter culture surrounding it puts so much energy into decorating the vehicles of administration.
  • The Egg Spell: this spell gives anyone who reads it the ability to laugh out loud whenever someone admits to being Wiccan - oh wait, you can do that anyway.
  • The Jack Chick Web Parody is not really that funny, since the real Jack Chick is far more ridiculous; however, it is a great intro to those unfamiliar with Chick Publications®.
  • Speaking of parodies, Doug Anderson's Web Parodies hasn't been updated in years, which is a shame since the first few were pretty funny. I e-mailed Doug and he said he had been far too busy to construct another one, but he would e-mail me when he posted something new. I don't think he's lost my address...

Now, it's off to Spofford Lake with the Hubers.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Ah, beautiful Hokkaido! For all of my love of what bits of Japanese culture seep through their media, there are some things that still don't translate well. I was touring the Engrish website of Shiraoi this morning and thought I'd share my findings. I first arrived at the Specialties page - I can't imagine ordering "Boiled Hair Crab" outloud. On to more specialty foods: not content with simply counting cattle by heads, the Japanese count their chickens by wings, I guess to more closely match their value in ¥en. The handcrafts are nice; AAH! CARVED BEAR! There's a great picture of a Tanegashima on the Histrical Remains / Museum page - I did a term paper on the impact of the Tanegashima on the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate long ago. The festivals are, indeed, Vigorous as the picture would lead us to believe - that, or the participants use ancient, Ainu hallucinogens. I think the latter would explain the "persons curling" event. Finally, we delve into successional Ainu culture at the Ainu Museum. Fish boots.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Ultraman is Back!

Well, sorta. Actually, the digital internet world has ushered in the mass release of bootlegged Ultraman tapes that, even through the poor quality, bring back the youths we thought we'd lost. Alex gave me a few of these tapes, and I purchased the rest from some guy living in his parents' basement who I found through eBay. Now, the higher-res Ultraman is also on the web at Absolute Ultraman! I find it particularly interesting to watch some of the episodes and monsters that plagued my early nightmares and try to see what cues and images were most unsettling. While the quality of the costumes and effects are now even less bearable, the insights into my early childhood have been worth all the latex.

Friday, July 26, 2002

I recently read an entertainment story about the possibility of an upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. In the story, Superman is described as "noble and just," while Batman is "obsessive and vengeful;" hence, their ultimate showdown. These are certainly the images that we now see of these characters, but in typical American fashion, we've become so entranced by the most superficial of characteristics - one's "super", the other's a "bat" - that we've totally missed the mark on their characters. One of the key elements in any of the old Batman comics, was that he always left the villains unscathed but wrapped up for the police to find, with the ad nauseum caveat that "revenge should never come before justice." Superman, on the other hand, started off as Hooveresque thug who violated every Constitutional Amendment he could think of for the opportunity to physically abuse perceived wrong-doers: check out the very first ever Superman comic from Action Comics.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

This just in from Yahoo! News:

RABAT (Reuters) - Surgeons have managed to stitch back a Moroccan boy's penis after it was bitten off by a donkey, the official MAP news agency reported Thursday.

Professor Mouaad Mounir, chief urologist at Ibnou Toufail hospital in the southern city of Marrakesh, was quoted as saying the operation on the seven-year-old boy was carried out last week.

He said the operation had taken 45 minutes and was successful.

MAP did not say how the donkey managed to bite off the boy's penis.

A source at the hospital confirmed the agency's report, but declined to give further details.

Donkeys in Morocco are used for laborious work on farms and garbage collection and are often subject to harsh treatment.

"And they knew not their holes from an ass on the ground" - Everything you Know is Wrong! the Firesign Theatre.
I will never do meaningful work on the computer again. Now, with le Piano Graphique, I can spend hours composing and improvising by using my computer keyboard to activate their stored sound and image files. Seeing and hearing their samples dance to The Quick Brown Fox is mesmerizing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Japanese Ice Cream

Dinner and dessert at once

Opens my abdomen.
I subscribe to A-Word-A-Day by, which sends me daily vocabulary. Wordsmith is run by Anu Garg, a non-American-English speaker, which gives the site and it's words an archaic naïveté. Today's theme was apparently "words never to say at a craps game, unless you want to lose all your money." Our word for Wed. July 24 is ambsace.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Today's as good a day as any to clear out some of my old bookmarks.

When we bought our dilapidated house last year, I looked at the concrete lions flanking the front steps and considered more tasteful replacements. I went online in search of giant, wooden Tiki gods, and discovered that Tiki gods did not originate from Polynesia, as Walt Disney® would have us believe, but originated from Whittier, California. The Tiki form was the artistic styling of LeRoy Schmaltz, based on his interpretations of Maori idols. LeRoy Schmaltz and Bob Van Oosting design and produce ALL Tiki sculptures from their shop, Oceanic Arts. (You can read all about it in Night of the Tiki, illustrated by LeRoy Schmaltz and Shag - and let me say, nothing says "Bachelor Pad" like schmaltz and shag!) The Oceanic Arts page is part of Space Age City, which also features a photo journey through googie architecture.

Too young to fully appreciate Shag? Then pull out those old Dinky Toys and visit the 70's I grew up in at Fanderson, a site dedicated to the work of Gerry Anderson. (Jonathan Frakes - Star Trek:TNG's Will Reicher is slated to direct the live-action Thunderbirds movie for 2004.) Or go directly to Yesterdayland. That and a box of Quisp™, or maybe some Freakies™ and you're ready for Saturday morning.

Monday, July 22, 2002

As a Saint Louisan working in the Central West End, I have had the pleasure of watching Bob Jamerson dance his way down Kingshighway during my morning drives. During the schoolyear, Minna was fascinated by his performances and, especially, his ballerina outfits, which she covetted from the backseat. Finally, a fellow WUMS employee has begun collecting some of his performances at the official Bob Jamerson Fan Club website.

And, Jon says no "blog" is complete without a reference to the Infamous Exploding Whale Video. So, there it is.
Years back, when computer games were just starting to take advantage of the new VGA video mode, Mark & Hallie got "Life and Death II," a brain surgery simulation. At the beginning of each case, the player had to assess the condition of the patient and determine the correct course of treatment, which was usually non-surgical. Key to the assessment was the eye motion/responsiveness test, which we all became quite proficient at, especially for the simulated subdural hematoma. Now, you can simulate your own lateral, subdural hematoma at the UC Davis Eye Simulator. While cutting the various eye muscles is probably more useful in recognizing the more common complaints, knocking out the cranial nerves is much more satisfying, especially the oculomotor nerve (III). Hit both oculomotors, and the "Life and Death II" diagnosis is, "cocaine abuse."

Thursday, July 18, 2002

How Much is Inside Stuff has to be one of the finest scientific websites going. The authors buy household items and demonstrate their capacities through various, ingenious methods. High on the list are aluminum foil (not aluminium) and blood (well, kinda). I wonder how much is inside that cool hat...

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

I'm sitting at Dean One, eating my lunch, as Jon is working on Dean Two. He taps me on the shoulder to show me some pages he found on a Google search for cat juggling. "Oh, you can do better than that!" I say, and proceed to run a search of my own. Here are my results, poignant and ridiculous:

Bert Lahr
American Taliban

When the news first broke of an American national being found in the midst of the Taliban forces, and the identity of John Walker Lindh was broadcast across the aether, one of the graduate students in the lab claimed to have grown up next door to John Lindh and to have played with him in their adjoining yards. No one believed him until the next morning when I answered the lab phone (I'm the only person in the lab who does) and was greeted by a Federal Agent who said it was imperative that he contact my labmate. I explained that he was not in the lab, but would return shortly, which was not what the agent wanted to hear, and wondered whether their voice recognition software was putting a black mark in my FBI folder. The student brought in some pictures from a scrapbook of him and the American Taliban playing together as children. It has colored my reading of the news regarding the American Taliban to be a friend of a friend.

I was reminded of John Lindh as I was reading the website of the REAL American Taliban, David McNamara. McNamara calls himself "anti-porn guy," which is an understatement of all that he is against. The parallels between his views and those of the Taliban are a stark reminder that all religious fundamentalism is the same, regardless of the religion in hides behind. It is also a reminder that as we point our collective American fingers at Islam we are ignoring our own lunatic fringe, who are just as dangerous and far better funded than Al Qaeda.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Like most websearchers, I will from time to time enter my own name into Google to see what my doppelganger is up to. Over the years, I've found several sites by and about Onken's and decided to collect them at, which I maintain and of which I am the sole visitor. One of my favorite Onken sites is Uwe Onken Fishing Tours. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the site, beside my longing to go on one of his tours, is his icon.
Sure he's got pictures of people with salmon, trout, pollack, and pike (and lots of halibut), but his icon has a picture of a fish's head that doesn't look very good to eat. After searching through his site, I finally found pictures of guests who had caught the ugly beast, which he referred to as Steinbeißer ("rock-biter"). I looked it up in my German-English dictionary, which translated Steinbeißer as "loach." Now I had a tropical fish tank years back, and I never saw a loach as large and ugly as that thing! So, I did some more searching and found another German site that gave Seewolf as an alternate name for Steinbeißer. The head turned out to be that of a wolf fish, a coldwater blenny that can grow to a meter in length. I'm told they are delicious and make handsome purses.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

The Science Hobbyist is a site maintained by Bill Beaty that is full of fun stuff, including Unwise Microwave Oven Experiments. Having been the first member of my family to purposely put a fork in the microwave to make sparks, I was excited to see someone else purposely breaking the rules. I only wish he'd included the Sparking Grapes Experiment.

Monday, July 08, 2002

I was teaching Problem Based Learning to highschoolers last week, and decided to break from my two years of using AIDS as a topic and have them research cancer instead. As I was trying to recall the origins of oncogene names via Google, for my own edification, I came across the Cancer Bacteria Homepage, which insists that cancer is caused by bacterial infection, specifically by certain mycoplasms, and that cancer patients should give up their present therapies and go on an antibiotic regimen. This is one of those instances where the freedom of webspeech goes from humorous and quirky to indifferent and dangerous. The fact that the reams of evidence demonstrating how totally ineffective antibiotics are at fighting cancer can be so easily ignored just to have a provocative website at the expense of others' health seems more than a bit criminal to me.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Somehow, my lab baymate, Jon, was directed to Villain a lot of obvious pieces with some hidden gems, especially in the "Traps and Tortures" and "Misc. Evil" sections. Some day, I hope to see misc. replace miscellaneous as the correct spelling, much the way Mrs. has.
Well, the Andromedans, or Greys, have confirmed my whole Hollow-Earth-as-surrogate-anus theory by finally communicating directly with us through Joseph Smith... er... I mean... Alex Collier. He has made their teachings available in the unabridged online version of Defending Sacred Ground. Apparently, the Hollow Earth is not unique; in fact, all celestial bodies are hollow and filled with colonies of scrawny, hairless aliens. Mmmmm...

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

I've finally found the source/clearinghouse of all of those humorous and bizarre flash videos circulating around everyone's e-mail: Albino Blacksheep. While going through their older archives, I found a link to How to Dance Properly, which made me laugh. Meanwhile, dad sent me a couple of flashes that I didn't see at the site: Ja Da and Spin. The former is just silly, while the latter animation is quite Plymptonesque.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

It was lawn mowing day this morning, and I finally got my tape player working so that I could listen to music during the hour-long task. I dug through my now decades old tape collection, and came up with two favorites: Commercial Suicide by Colin Newman, and The Shivering Man by Bruce Gilbert. Both Newman and Gilbert were members of Wire, one of the most influential bands in the art rock movement. Wire went on hiatus during the early 80's so that the members could persue their own solo interests, including the collaborations of Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis as Dome. I find myself drawn more to these interim projects than to the works of the band as a whole. Perhaps it is was simply the timing of my introduction to the band, but I prefer to think that the disparate styles of the members was somehow lost in the whole, and that those qualities I love in these albums are watered down or missing from the Wire albums that came after. Commercial Suicide is OOP (out of print), but can still be found lurking about the backwaters of E-Bay; The Shivering Man has been re-released.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

I am a big fan of Laurie Anderson. It has, however, been a long time since I've bought one of her albums or gone to one of her shows, so when I received the upcoming Edison Theatre program guide and read that Laurie Anderson would be doing a show, I was at first leary: not quite knowing what to expect after all these years from her or from me. My friend Mat e-mailed me to tell me she was coming and to ask whether I'd be going to the performance, so I decided to try catching up by visiting her website, It was like hearing from an old friend. Her site is at once cerebral and familiar; I read through her synopsis of her "Moby Dick" project, looked through the photo album, and didn't know whether I was more drawn to reread the book or to see her perform it. Although this is not the show that she is bringing to Edison, I'm now sure I will enjoy the performance immensely.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Truth is stranger than fiction, especially in the comedy arena. The internet has allowed us to peer into and mock the lives of others, not because of some Orwellian invasion of privacy, but because they openly publish their own web pages! Try reading through the testimonials at Skirtsmanship without breaking a smile. The internet has also given us the opportunity to see all of the sideshows we missed before everyone went online: Touching People is a list by ViceLand of the top 10 "outsider" videos that show us some of what we've been missing. If only there were a way to combine the Skirtsmen with SeanBaby, we'd finally have the "killer joke" we've all longed for.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

If you go to, the Environmental Work Group's site, you can find out how close you live to the "atomic train" that will be hauling radioactive wastes cross country to the Yucca mountain facility. Most of St. Louis' central corridor is within a mile of the proposed route, which will be travelling along the still heavily used Union Pacific line. Our house is 50 yards from the tracks.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

As I was deleting old messages from my e-mail folders, I came upon two from my father that I'd received last year: New Adventures Into The Hollow Earth and Home Colon Cleansing. Either he's come to the same conclusions as I have, or he's gone a bit off. I'll have to keep an eye on him.

I didn't go to my 15th college reunion, which was, apparently, a mistake, as has been pointed out to me by several classmates through e-mail attachments. I've sent each of them their own personalized copies of W32.klez.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

I was reading through the posts on one of the many message boards I follow, and there was a mention of some soccer game between England and Argentina. I was preparing to post a crack about flammable aluminium boats - I ended up not posting, because I couldn't think of a way to make it funny and contextual - and I thought, "gosh, what IS the combustion point for aluminum in air?" Since I was already online, I figured I'd start with SIRI (Safety Information Resources, Inc.) and check throught the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for aluminum. The first one listed was for aluminum foil from JT Baker™. The first thing it says about aluminum foil is, "As part of good industrial and personal hygiene and safety procedure, avoid all unnecessary exposure to the chemical substance and ensure prompt removal from skin, eyes and clothing." It then goes on to require goggles and lab coats as standard precautions when working with aluminum foil. Obviously, the government has used OSHA to force them to print that, to keep people from making aluminum foil deflector beanies and escape their mind control beams!

That, or they just use the same base MSDS for everything. To test this, I looked up water, CAS#7732-18-5, at JT Baker and, sure enough, they suggest goggles and lab coats. I also checked for water at Fisher Scientific got the following MSDS for water. They must have put the summer intern on non-toxic chemicals. Firstly, they give the molecular weight for water as 20.14, which would only be correct if it were deuterated water with traces of tritium, toxic stuff indeed! Secondly, in case of a chemical (i.e. water) spill, they instruct: "Absorb the liquid and scrub the area with detergent and water." Doh!

I recently got this link to a "real" tombstone with a hidden epithet. I have to say that I question either the validity of the picture or the intelligence of the creators. "Boy, John'll really be mad when he reads this (titter, titter), that is, if he were still alive..." Doh!

Thursday, June 06, 2002

As an addendum, I searched Google (like I need to include the link) for "Everything You Know is Wrong" and found a new book by Disinformation, a first volume by Lloyd Pye, and a groovy, illuminati-esque site by Mantra. Since Phil Proctor controls my brain, I can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all and wonder whether the real conspiracy is that Disinformation is really just one massive satire that almost got too caught up in its own importance. The fact that their version of "Everything You Know is Wrong" is being hocked alongside "The Best of the Moog" (which I already own, thank you very much) seems to me to be a wink to the 70's and the heyday of the Firesign Theatre.
"Just dig a hole..."

Many years ago, when I was a youth, my neighbor Alex Jones invited me over to his house to listen to some records that he had checked out of the local library. He had been combing through the comedy albums and found two interesting titles by a group called the Firesign Theatre: "The Case of the Giant Rat of Sumatra," and "Everything You Know is Wrong." Although the former album was more accessible to our prepubescent minds - it's just one big pun - the latter was much more interesting, and not just because the narrator was "Happy" Harry Cox. (We still titter about that.) We went on to find and listen to their entire oeuvre, but those earliest finds still have some special meaning to me.

Much of "Everything You Know is Wrong" is an ongoing news story about a meteorite that produces a deep hole in the ground and speculation that it has opened a passage to the Hollow Earth. At the time I first heard the record, I laughed at the absurdity of the story and at their comical "experts" discussing the ramifications of the hole. Now I find myself once again confronted with holes and unable to shake the feeling that Phil Proctor controls my brain!

A little over a decade ago, Alex sent me another in a series of mix tapes that we had been using in lieu of correspondence. Overrepresented were the Tom Tom Club, Danielle Dax, and Pere Ubu, suggesting that these were his present favorites. I knew of Pere Ubu, the band, from Urgh! A Music War, and so listened happily to the various tracks Alex had included. One track was "the Hollow Earth," which Alex said had reminded him of the Firesign Theatre and added that some people(?) believed that the Earth was hollow, hence both references. A few years later, I began subscribing to the "Skeptical Inquirer," and found that the Hollow Earth Theory had surfaced, died, and resurfaced several times over the past couple of centuries, and that the 60's New Age movement had included one such resurfacing. Well, that explained the brilliance and timeliness of the Firesign Theatre album, and maybe Pere Ubu - who take their name from an absurdist, surreal French drama - had had a similar introduction. Maybe.

Over a year ago, my friend Mark was testing unusual search terms to find books at Amazon, and typed in the term "anus." He was directed to a book by Hiroyuki Nishigaki titled "How to Good-bye Depression: If you constrict anus 100 times everyday. Malarkey? or Effective way?." What's the connection? Well, recently my father sent be a site called simply "Holes": a collection of 100 pictures of holes. As I looked at the various holes, a voice in my head said, "just dig a hole that's deep enough, and everybody will want to jump into it." At almost the same time, we got yet another question in the Earth Sciences queue of the Mad Scientist Network insisting on the existence of the Hollow Earth.

So, I started researching the Hollow Earth Theory as it impacted my life, and found that the source of almost all information on the topic was one Raymond Bernard who wrote a treatise on the subject back in 1964. So HE was the source of this insidious meme that now haunted me.

As I went through the pages previously linked, I was struck by the two faces of Walter Siegmeister/Raymond Bernard: half of his life and writings were devoted to solving constipation, and the other half was devoted to expanding his spirituality. This seemed to culminate in "the Hollow Earth", in which alien spirit beings are constantly commuting through a great Earthly pore far too reminiscent of a great planetary anus. I looked back at the 100 holes, and was reminded again that "they knew not their holes from an ass on the ground." I went back to Nishigaki's sites - the parallels to Bernard's works suggested something more deepseated. It was then that I was reminded of seeing Whitley Strieber's "Communion" with Alex and others when it was released as a movie. Here, the alien's were directly commuting through Strieber's anus instead of the Earth's.

So, what's with all of these fringe authors' preoccupations with alternative spirituality and continence? According to the NIH, they're exhibiting the warning signs of Schizophrenia! Certainly, the descriptions of Raymond Bernard's later paranoia surrounding the Cold War that culminated in his "disappearing" in the jungles of South America to avoid radioactive fallout would point to a chemical imbalance, but what of the others? Dr. Hulda Clark, who has also posted to the Mad Sci Net, believes that Schizophrenia, as well as every other disease known to man, is caused by parasitic worms (guess wherefrom). It's like Freudianism gone awry. Maybe all of the religious fundamentalists that are plaguing the world today are just anal retentives overdue for their weekly enemas. Maybe Graham and Kellogg were right in trying to save the world one high colonic at a time.

I'm still waiting for Phil Proctor's next instruction.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Will the REAL Raymond Bernard please stand up.

I'm looking for some good sites on Raymond Bernard... because... well... I'm not sure why. I think I'm being mystically drawn to him. World renowned author? Rosicrucian founder of CIRCES? Expert Oenologist? French Filmmaker? Dr. Walter Siegmeister?!

Allright, 3 and 4 are clearly different people, and 1 and 5 are the same person, but what about 2?! It seems odd that the Raymond Bernard who wrote the book on the Rosicrucian influence on early American History is not the same Raymond Bernard who founded CIRCES as an offshoot of AMORC. Maybe he's really L. Ron Hubbard!

Monday, June 03, 2002

The Ballad of the Radio

I inherited my present car, a Honda Accord, from my father after it passed the 100,000 mile mark. Like my previous Accord, it runs well and needs little repair - except for the factory-installed stereo system. Some time ago, the stereo began to make popping noises while cutting on and off - raising and lowering the antenna - annoying me greatly, as it prevented me from listening to cassettes without ruining them. I was in getting the car inspected and asked about the radio; the mechanic told me that this was a common problem with this particular model and could be fixed by a guy she knew out in West County.

Instead, I figured I'd just listen to the radio for a bit, and see if I could expand my musical horizons. About this time, our family moved from downtown St Louis city out to Kirkwood - in my childhood, this was the edge of civilization in St Louis county, beyond which were small towns, unincorporated farmland, Six Flags, and the Chrysler plant. While living downtown, I had started listening to the only jazz station in the area, WSIE, which unfortunately originates in Edwardsville, Illinois on the other side of the river. As I began making the trip to and from the new house, I would listen to the jazz as I loaded and unloaded the car. Only after discussing the programming with another listener did I discover that my car radio is possibly the only radio in Kirkwood that can pick up the weak, distant signal. Like Cheever's protagonist, I'm afraid that fixing my radio will end my listening pleasures.

But, even the jazz becomes tiresome as each DJ's playlist becomes more and more familiar. Sliding through the lower FM stations one day, I came upon the familiar sound of a preacher condemning sinners and praising Jesus and such, and stopped to listen. I would like to say that I found the Lord and John 3:16 and A-men and all that, but to my eternal damnation, the preacher was discussing the evils of evolution and giving the usual proofs of Creation. I was intrigued as every argument against evolution was appended with a proof for Creation that itself was denied by the argument. Stuff like, "the evolutionists want you to believe that man evolved from birds, etc., which is clearly a fairy tale! The Bible says that man was formed from the dust by God!" Thus began my nightly listening to Hank Hanegraaff, "The Bible Answerman®" during my drive home from work. So, if you see someone talking to the radio on I-44 during rush hour in a white Accord with the antenna going up and down, steer clear.

More great biblical teachings can be found at Landover Baptist Church, and some great websites can be found through Adult Christianity.

I have been a fan of electronic music probably even before my neighbor, Alex, introduced me to Gary Numan in the late Seventies. Apparently, my father shares this interest, in spite of his deep interest in and knowledge of classical music and jazz, so he forwarded this interactive site: Electronic Music Interactive. He also sent the Glass Engine, a site with most of Philip Glass' works and an interesting interface for searching through and listening. As a fan of Glass and Steven Reich (OK, so Glass isn't a minimalist - the end results are similar), I had to stop myself from wasting a day just browsing through pieces I already know.

Couple my love for experimental music with my brother John's work as an architect, and you get two lovely, ambient sites: Cités Obscures and The Central City. Each site give the visitor an interesting set of landscapes and soundscapes to explore.

Friday, May 31, 2002

It has always interested me that Christian Orthodoxy (i.e. fundamentalists) openly decry eisegesis and yet practice it so openly themselves. Here's a satirical example regarding Noah's Flood that actually had me laughing. Where's Hank Hanegraaf when you need him?
Melodyhound is a site devoted to people, like me, who wnat to know the names of every tune they hear or find themselves humming. At the same time intriguing and unsettling, they use the "Parson's Code" to identify and catergorize melodies. Intriguing because of its simplicity and usefulness; unsettling because of its simplicity and usefulness: Parson's code reduces each melody line to simple directional movements between adjacent notes, and then discards all other information. I think this is especially unsettling for me after taking a year and a half of music theory and ear training to distinguish between intervals and chord progressions and keys. All this time it was just up-down-up-up-repeat...

Dad has given me one more reason to dislike Stephen King: he killed John Lennon! Actually, I was quite impressed by King's response to these accusation - he seems level-headed and sympathetic considering the obvious volume of mail he must have received before replying.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Best get started.

My father inundates my mailbox with his free online time, devoting my mornings to catching up with his latest finds. Today, a few standouts: The Web's First Japanese Pizza Place was sent without comment. Knowing his tastes in food, I think he would agree that while the pictures are interesting, the header commentary is a bit provincial. Maybe it's just growing up in St. Louis, home of the thin-crust, provelone pizza, that makes me overly sensitive to defenders of "real pizza," but I always feel smug when I hear someone describing their trip to Italy: "well, the stuff THEY call pizza is just terrible; thank God for Mc Donald's and EuroDisney!" Domino's is already worldwide, so hopefully them dang ferners will start makin' pizza right, and stop eating Christian babies!

Next up is The Magnetic Theory of Sculpture. Some very interesting effects generated by applying an electromagnet to a colloidal suspension of iron powder in brake fluid. I can't wait till I can get one of my own at Spencer's Gifts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I'll try to get some real content on here as soon as I'm sure the servers and templates are all functioning properly - we need to maintain full Industrial!® standards.
Well, welcome to the "blog". I'm not sure why I'm writing this, since I'm the only one here, but welcome anyway. How's it going? You?