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 Wordsmith.org, 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 Onken.org, 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.