Friday, January 30, 2004

OK, I've done it. I've changed my comments generator. I've chosen HaloScan, which appears to work well on other people's blogs. Please try it out for me and see how (and if) it works. Hopefully we won't have all the crashes and other problems I had with the last comments generator.

Crystal ball becomes heat beam.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

As you've probably noticed, I've done a massive update to my links sidebar. I've included blogs, news sites, fiction sites, comics site, videogame sites, and basically anything I read on a semi-regular basis. Take a look around and leave a comment if you find any broken links or other problems.

Here's the Baphomet entry on a encyclopedia of the mystical, religious and occult called the Mystica.

The Revealer has an interesting article starting with the idea that churches and strip clubs serve similar needs. From that profane beginning, the article goes on to discuss the necessity of being able to explain your religious decisions. Good writing, well thought out. I'm really loving The Revealer, check it out.

I think I'm going to take the 50 Book Challenge as interpreted by Bookslut. Last year, I read about 54 books, so it's definitely possible. More importantly though, it'll give me a chance to write about what I've been reading. So I'll be posting my thoughts on each book as I finish it. The first will be "Nova" by Samuel Delany, which I've almost finished.

A Russian Orthodox archbishop has cleared chess of satanic links. Thank goodness. I know we were all worried. Video games, however, they have a little Satan on their side.

I've always liked the idea of a motor home, being able to travel the country and live (somewhat) comfortably at the same time. What a cool life that would be. Now they're just making me jealous with this: a new motor home that can travel 80 mph on land and 6 knots in the water. Link has pic of the motor home at sea.

Whale explodes in Taiwanese city. "Passers-by and cars were soaked in blood and body parts were sprayed over a road after the bursting of the whale, which was being carried on a trailer."
UPDATE: Yahoo has pictures of the aftermath.

The Mola mola is a 10 foot long fish that looks like a giant fish head floating through the sea. Another wonderful, weird sea creature.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Here's a little bit of history I didn't know about: The Hartford Convention. Apparently, New England (or at least the Federalist Party members in those states) thought about seceding from the Union and talked about it in a convention in Hartford. Why don't we learn about these things in high school?

Trent at s1ngularity::criticism offers a take on "The Lord of the Rings" (the books, natch) as anti-racist. I'm not sure I buy it any more than I buy the racist viewpoint, but it's nice to see it spinned in the other direction. The comments also add a lot to the discussion.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Apparently Alexis Kanner died back in December. Kanner played some great parts on "The Prisoner" TV series. He hasn't done much else that I recognize, but it's sad to see him pass.

You'll all be glad to know that the woman with the giant tumor (see yesterday's entry) has gotten it successfully removed.

Here's a site on Nazi architecture that includes images from the 1930s and '40s and the same place today. The real interest here is the "Thingstatte" (scroll down to the Heidelberg section) which was called a "veritable church of the Reich" by Goebbels. It was an open air stadium built to harken back to the ancient pagan gatherings. (Page found via Cylindrical Primate Storage Unit.)

According to Poynter Online, The New York Times Book Review is changing direction. Now there will be less literary fiction reviewed and more nonfiction. Because literary fiction is boring. Unlike, say, the latest book on budget implications on capitol hill. Or the big, multivolume epic on the life of President Garfield. The Book Review is the only section of the Sunday Times I still read, even as boring as it is now. This "updating" of the Review is bound to send me off completely.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

All right this is disgusting and I urge you not to look at it: Woman to have 12 stone tumour removed. Apparently, 12 stone is almost twice the woman's body weight. This is so ugly and bizarre, it doesn't seem to be real. Ugh.

Complete mammoth skull unearthed in England.

Fishermen have been making some big catches lately. Here's a world record blue whiskerfish. Tanzanian fishermen caught a rare dugong, which must be like a manatee (it looks like one and they call it a "sea cow.") And thank god for the Russian army. They saved 10 tons of beer that sank under ice in River Irtysh. Best catch of the day.

Story and video of mysterious object caught on video over Kansas City sky. It looks like a flat, white rod or something. Not very impressive. And the second half of the video, you can barely see the object.

Some people are reporting that "Enterprise" may get canceled. Not having cable and not watching TV anyway, it doesn't concern me much. But I've always liked the Star Trek franchise. Still, I think this is exactly what it needs.
For too long, Star Trek has been coasting. After the Deep Space Nine (the pinnacle of Star Trek shows), they had the awful "Voyager" and the (from what I've seen) boring "Enterprise." On top of that, the last two movies have not been winners with critics or with fans. And "Nemesis" was a bomb at the box office. It's time for Star Trek to settle back into obscurity for a little while, let people work up some interest in it again. Wait a few years. Then maybe Paramount can get an ambitious and intelligent writing staff to come up with a new direction for Star Trek.
Or maybe, it's just time the franchise was put to bed and better stuff will take its place.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

This link is more for me to go back for than any other reason. Someone named Dorothy Lamour has put 1940s science fiction comic books on the web. They look great, ray guns and green guys with clubs and bug-eyed monsters.

Girl, 6, found dead in motel and an exorcism is suspected as the reason. The girl had a broken back and, according to this article, was stabbed. That's some pretty severe demons. Oh, and the adults and two children were found outside, in the snow, naked.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

There's a new blog called Boomer Deathwatch and it's something to see, especially by people of my generation. They take all the angst about the selfishness and screwed-upness of baby boomers and print it in great detail. I'm not sure I feel as strongly as they do, but I'm sure enjoying the bile. I like their disclaimer too:
"And if you're in any way offended by the content or message of Boomer Deathwatch, sorry, but we really don't care. Seriously. We'll probably just post your pissy e-mail and make fun of it, so don't bother."

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Taiwan scientists accidentally develop two-headed fish.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Starfish Invasion Reported In Volusia. Reminds me of the beginning of "Rebirth of Mothra II," with the red starfish attacking everything.

Big fish that turned up on Philippine beach is either a giant dolphin or a small whale. This might clear things up: "'Dolphins are small whales, whales are big dolphins. This one is a giant dolphin so it must be a whale,' Avila said."

An explorer has bought a Russian icebreaker and is heading out to the North Pole to determine if the Earth is hollow. Here's the pitch from Steve Currey's Expedition Company - Voyage to Our Hollow Earth: "Don't miss this chance to personally visit that paradise within our earth via the North Polar Opening and meet the highly advanced, friendly people who live there. We are of the opinion that they are the lengendary Lost Tribes of Israel who migrated into the North Country over 2,500 years ago and literally became lost to the knowledge of mankind. "

Check out the video on this page (you'll need Quicktime.) It's fun with electricity! (Link found via Cylindrical Primate Storage Unit, which I love more and more every day.)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

'Hole in sky' amazes scientists, with picture. (Link via The Anomalist, from who I steal many links.)

Gottfried Benn was a poet and a doctor. He seems to have combined those interests in some very odd ways. I just downloaded his poems from this site and they are grotesque in the best sense. Try this poem:

Little Aster

A drowned beer hauler was heaved onto the slab.
Someone had heaved a lavender aster
between his teeth.
As I reached through the chest
under the skin
with a long knife
to cut out the tongue and palate
I must have bumped the flower, for it slid
into the brain lying alongside.
I packed it into the chest cavity
with the sawdust
as we sewed up.
Drink your fill in that vase!
Rest in peace,
little aster!

That comes from a collection called "Morgue," which you can dowload as a pdf at the link. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

This post from Tequila Mockingbird is not the normal thing I post. But it is so well written and so touching, I can't help myself. Just read it.

Lion's bones proves sacred place lions held in Ancient Egypt.

Three cops see UFO floating over church on Dec. 26.

Isn't cool enough when you find a Roman-era wooden anchor on the shores of the Dead Sea? Why make claims for it being King Herod's yacht anchor, when you don't even know if Herod had a boat? Silly, silly archaeologist.

Neil Gaiman recently made mention of Harry Stephen Keeler and linked to Ramble House, who are currently republishing his novels.
So, looking further, I found this page: Harry Stephen Keeler Home Page. Read this page. This guy sounds crazy and wonderful. I want to buy his books. Here's a good passage from that page:
"In one novel, there's a character named Suing Sophie. Sophie goes on transpacific cruise ships, striking up an acquaintance with a single man on board. When the ship gets into port, Sophie bids her male friend farewell by loudly exclaiming, "Yes! I'll marry you!" then rushing off. Now the man has not proposed marriage. But Sophie has made sure that there are plenty of witnesses to her farewell. Soon afterward, the man is greeted with a breach of promise lawsuit for failing to marry Sophie. In the settlement, Sophie collects a huge award, which she then uses to travel to the cannibal isles of the South Pacific; specifically to islands whose inhabitants have recently been converted by Christian missionaries. There Sophie convinces them of the errors of their recent conversion, and reconverts them as practicing Jews.
"You know all this and more about Sophie; before it's over, Keeler probably gets more plot mileage out of Sophie than Flaubert does out of Emma Bovary. The difference is that Sophie does not appear in the action of Keeler's novel at all. Other characters just allude to her."

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A story on the inventor of the death ray.

Cyclops goat.

A Ghost ship found more than a year ago off the coast of Australia will be sunk as an artificial reef. I love stories of people just disappearing, like the crew of this ship or the residents of Roanoke. There's probably reasonable explanations, but I like the far flung theories I can come up with instead.

Here's a decent Donnie Darko FAQ, although most of this information can be gleaned from the DVD and the Donnie Darko Web site. Still, it's nice to have it all in one place.

Zagat's outtakes, including gems like:
"Too snooty, but so am I."
"Even Jesus would have a hard time getting at table on Saturday night."
"The stench of testosterone and desperation doesn't quite cover up the fact that this place stinks."

Monday, January 12, 2004

Here's a review of a couple of books on the occult and their connections with literature.

Sunday, January 11, 2004 gives his take on book lovers' view of the world vs. movie lovers' view, and it's fascinating. I'm off to work now, but I wanted to note this for later consumption and argument. (Link found via About Last Night.)

Gene Wolfe, a really great writer, discusses the Lord of the Rings and their influence on him and the influence he believes they should have on society at large. It's a conservative viewpoint, but not a bad one. I particularly liked this:
"Philology led him [Tolkien] to the study of the largely illiterate societies of Northern Europe between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the true Middle Ages (roughly AD 400 to 1000). There he found a quality -- let us call it Folk Law -- that has almost disappeared from his world and ours. It is the neighbour-love and settled customary goodness of the Shire. Frodo is "rich" in comparison to Sam, though no dragon would call Frodo rich; Sam is poor in comparison to Frodo, though Sam is far richer than Gollum, who has been devoured by the tyranny and corruption of the One Ring. Frodo does not despise Sam for his poverty, he employs him; and Sam does not detest Frodo for his wealth, but is grateful for the job. Most central of all, the difference in their positions does not prevent their friendship. And in the end, poor Sam rises in the estimation of the Shire because of his association with Frodo, and rich Frodo sacrifices himself for the good of all the Sams."

Slightly less thrilling than a moon base and Mars exploration is deep-sea exploration. A next-generation robot will soon visit the deepest part of the Marinas trench (and therefore, the deepest part of the ocean.) I found this interesting:
"While the oceans cover two-thirds of the planet, the vast majority - 90% - are unexplored.
"We have better maps of Mars than we do of our own seabed, oceanographers say.
"But according to Professor Chris German, from the Southampton Oceanography Centre (SOC), UK, new underwater technologies will extend scientists' reach - soon - to all areas of the ocean floor.
"You could say that deep-sea exploration is the new space exploration," he said."

Friday, January 09, 2004

Wow. Bush is expected to send a manned mission to Mars and back to the moon. It's about time. I can't believe it's Bush proposing this though.

I think everybody knows a little bit about Charles Berlitz. Who doesn't have a copy of "The Bermuda Triangle," "The Philadelphia Experiment" or "The Mystery of Atlantis" hanging around their house (and most likely unread.) Here's a good article about "The Flim Flam Artist." It's also interesting to note that he was one of the world's top linguists. (I wonder if he knew Noam Chomsky, another world famous linguist who is better known for his side work.)

Squid season must be coming in again. Here's a Bright Squid Found In Hawaii, with picture.

The terror alert has been downgraded to yellow. There's nothing to see here, move along.

The Revealer is a new blog/web site about religion and the press. It's got some very thoughtful entries in it so far. I already like it more than the B-Log, BeliefNet's Web log on religion. The B-Log mostly did weird religion stories in the news, where The Revealer actually explores religious issues. Check them out, see what you think.

"In today's hurly burly and mixy dixy it is very important to know if you are a space alien!" No kidding. Well fortunately, this Web site offers a handy dandy test to determine whether you are of the extraterrestrial kind. I've tried it, now I feel much more secure in my human-ness. Try it out for yourself. Ask questions like step 2: "If you frequently think about kidnapping farmers and subjecting them to rectal interference, look at yourself in the mirror. If you are wearing a plaid hat with earflaps, you are simply a serial sex murderer. If you are not, proceed to step 3!"
Go ahead. You'll thank me later.

What Valerie [a "domestic android"] CAN and CANNOT do. Valerie can call police in an emergency. Valerie cannot have sex. Damn, what good is she. (Was that sexist? Or droidist? 100 years from now, everyone will know the word droidist.)

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Minor giant squid news from Santa Cruz: "Strange catch of the week reported by Bayside Marine was two giant squid caught by an angler using diamond bars in 220 feet of water off Davenport. Rarely seen in this area, the squid were 3-4 feet long." I think "giant" is more of a physical description here. I don't think they actually caught Architeuthis, unless they were baby versions.

Here's a photo essay on bookbinding. For some reason, this looks really attractive to me. Something in the back of my mind wants me to waste my time building my own books. I can't cut in a straight line, yet I think it would be a really good idea to put together my own hardback book. It's a recipe for disaster.

Science fiction writer Lucius Shepard gives his review of "The Return of the King." I don't agree with everything he said, but he seems to feel the same way I do: the movie (and the trilogy) are great spectacles with a lot of entertainment value, yet filled with many faults. His summation seems pretty on point:
"The trilogy has now gone into the popular culture, standing as an incomparable feat of technical magic, and criticism of the project will seem no more than dust raised by its vast passage. Still and all, a quibble or two are not completely out of order, and I submit, for whatever value it may supply, that LotR’s hallucinatory content—giant spider, F-16 pterodactyls, super-mega-mastodons, et al—might have been better served with a lighter touch of magic, a few less epic sorrows, and a smattering of sufferings more mundane."
On a separate point, for what it's worth, Shepard brings up the Sam and Frodo dynamic and how they represent a 19th century British view of the relationship between servant and aristocrat. And that is certainly there in both the movie and the book. But when I was a kid reading the books, I saw their story as one of loyalty between friends. Sam was a good friend who supported Frodo right to the end. In fact, I saw LOTR as Sam's story (and he is the last person to write in The Red Book, the book you see finished at the end of the movie.) And while Tolkien certainly had the class dynamic in mind, I think he also saw it as a story of friendship and loyalty.

Man sees brilliant white light at Mud Lake. Several days later, he checks the lake and finds a mysterious ice circle.

Finally, giant squid news! A second giant squid predator has been found. Up until now, scientists believed only certain whales lived off of giant squids, but apparently Antartica's sleeper sharks also regularly eat the big calimari. There's also a neat graphic showing the size of a giant squid and a colossal squid in relation to a London bus.

I'm not sure I trust this source, but this article says scientists have found the best proof "yeti." A furry limb has been tested and found to be part of no known mammal.
Also in mysterious identifications, scientists confirm that the Chile sea blob was just a decayed sperm whale.

This article on something called "mindsight" is interesting. However, I think the "Star Wars" metaphor (the article is called "Proof that the 'force' is really with us") wasn't what they were looking for. I don't think I'll be making my light saber jump into my hand anytime soon. The article is more about a "sixth sense" or auras or something. Still very interesting.

In Norway, they are going to hold a memorial service to honor Keiko (aka 'Free Willy"). One person is quoted as the memorial being "to honor Keiko as a symbol of freedom."
OK, I can understand people that feel strongly about an animal, strong enough to attend a memorial. But symbol of freedom? This was an animal that was in captivity the majority of its life and tame enough to appear in a movie. It also had a tough time surviving on its own because it wanted to come back. Yes, what a proud symbol of freedom. Bah!

I've seen stories about this before, but I don't think I've ever blogged it. The body of a tiny humanoid creature was found in Chile. It's rather gross looking, but it sure does look like some kind of little alien.

A Quiz For People Who Know Everything

Here's an ad for Sex University, learn all those things you really need to know. (Careful, nothing particularly awful on this site, but if you have speakers, this is definitely not safe for work.)

Apparently this is a big Ursula Le Guin day. Sci Fi Channel has announced they will be making a mini-series of her Earthsea books. I read the first book, "A Wizard of Earthsea" and liked it, but I'd have to read it again to see how well it would do on TV.
Now that I think of it, it's a marketing department's dream. It's about a young boy who goes to a school for wizards where mysterious things are happening. He grows up to confront dragons and find out his true powers. Harry Potter references here we come!
While I liked the book, I wasn't in love with it. I didn't go on to read the rest of the books, but many people swear by them. It will be interesting to see what happens with it.

Good article on Ursula Le Guin's "The Left Hand of Darkness." It's a classic science fiction story and beautifully written. The article makes me want to reread the book.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Check out this lamp. I really don't think that would look good in my house.

Burglar mails himself to condo he plans to rob. He was caught.

Woman sells herself as imaginary online girlfriend. She was sold (the first time) for $41. I also like that all the people who won the auctions said they were just doing it in fun. Yeah. Sure you were. Also, here's her Web site, not that you'd need it or anything. It's just for fun. Really.

Science is always on the move. The latest great achievement: Elephant dentures. No more toothless pachyderms! Thank goodness.

Also found via Jay Lake's blog (see last entry), here is a site of photographic UFO Evidence. There's some pretty neat pictures here. Check it out quick before government agents shut it down.

All right, vacation is over, time for me to get back to work here at the old blogging mines. My first nugget of the new year I've dug up for you: Being 'left-haired' affects brain, say scientists. I know you missed me.