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-- Golden Gate Bridge at dawn. By Dennis Callahan.

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Saturday, January 19, 2002

But...if a place is like that [Dismal Swamp] why ever should one not call it so?...

... Gerard spoke up at once. 'Quite right,' he said. 'There were three ways of giving names in Australia. One was to stick to the native ones. Some were quite pleasant, like Yankalilla and Paringa and Mallala. Even the grotesque ones, like Mudamuckla and Cobdogla and Nunjikompita--'

'I like Nunjikompita,' I said.

It's not bad. And I rather relish Pompoota and Muloowurtie. They fit the places somehow -- and nobody remembers that quite a lot of them have surprisingly indelicate meanings. Well, that was one way, and quite a good one. The second was to remember the old folks at home. names like Clapham and Aldgate and Brighton and Edinburgh to little groups of shacks in the middle of nowhere ... The third method was the best. It was just to notice what a place looked like, or remember something that had happened there, or even just acknowledge what it felt like. That gives the real Australian names -- the white ones to set over against the marvellous dark ones of the aborigines. Lone Gum, Emu Downs, Wattle Flat, Policeman's Point, Cape Catastrophe, Wild Horse Plains, Mount Despair, Watchman, Disaster Bay, Dismal Swamp...'Yes,' he said, 'it's very satisfactory to have a place called Watchman'.
Quoted from What Happened at Hazelwood? by Michael Innes (One of his best--very funny)

Friday, January 18, 2002

who casually mentioned that it is possible to link to an individual BlogSpot post, but didn't tell us how to do it! Typical rocket scientist.

UP UP UPDATE: Myria has sent me the right answer. (I'm removing what I put here before) There's an easy way to do this. If you hover over the TIME in a BlogSpot post (ie: Posted by Natalie Solent at 2:15 PM), You will see in the bottom corner of your browser this:

This is the URL you need.

Now right click, and pick "copy shortcut" (On a Mac click-and-hold, then chose "Copy to Clipboard") Paste it into your document and add it to the usual: <A HREF="URL">text</A> stuff to make a link.

Thank you Myria! I was cobbling the links together by hand and making a mess of it! (She also sent a clear technical explanation of the process. For instance the 8843434 is an anchor, unique for each post -- e-mail me if you are interested.)

I was just reading Shiloh Bucher...

and if you think SHE has a odd name, there's a singer
who's voice I just love, and her name is Custer LaRue! Custer LaRue pic
Here is a look at her. . .

(Ha, Dawson, now I've got a picture)

Anyway, as I was saying, Shiloh Bucher on global warming and icebergs and lynxes; and thinking about how almost every good and worthy cause under the sun has been hijacked by unscrupulous leftists. (Are there any scrupulous leftists? Actually I think most of the leftish people I know are, if not scrupulous, at least sincere. (And very likable) It's the leaders who are opportunists)

I mean, global warming should be a concern for us all. Even if it is far from certain, the mere possibility of it should be worrisome (And yes, it is possible that global warming could cause some places to become colder.) So why are we heaping scorn on the idea? We do so as a counterweight to all those who have announced (or rather would announce if they were honest) "OK, Global Warming is here. We will take charge now. Capitalism, Liberty and other childish frontier notions must be put aside in favor of mature sensible hive-life in the new ecological state run by . . . . why, by US, since we are clearly wiser than the rest of you."

And everything else concerning ecology and the environment has been hijacked. Personally I think recycling is a conservative virtue, somewhat akin to thrift. I get a kick out of recycling, especially aluminum, (because I am aware that it takes ten times as much energy to make new Aluminum, as it does to recycle it) We should care about Lynxes. They've been hijacked, along with forests and rivers and native plants, by people who wouldn't recognize a Lynx if it bit them on the nose.

And there are all those other issues and concerns that the left has assimilated. The young and the old, the halt and the lame, The black red or brown, the swineing masses yearning to breathe free...and anyone who opposes them is labeled a racist, or sexist, or exploiter or polluter or whatever.

My idea, for a rhetorical counter-strategy, is to divide all of these subjects into two, A and B. Am I against the environment? No no, not at all, I'm FOR the environment. I'm an Environmentalist Type A, and unlike those Environmentalist Type B's, I don't also wish to destroy Capitalism, or keep Third Worlders in their quaint villages, or put everything under the control of an enlightened bureaucratic despotism. You can see how this might be useful on a variety of subjects.

By the way, some poet might usefully contribute better terms than A and B.

From today's BEST OF THE WEB:

A member of the Al Aqsa Brigades, a militia linked to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization, shot up a wedding hall in Israel where a girl was celebrating her bat mitzvah. Six people were killed, as was the gunman. The Associated Press reports the gunman was subdued when guest Moti Hasson threw a chair at him.
Obviously the guy reads Random Jottings...

I can't take the antics of this guy Raimondo very seriously, because his name reminds me too much of James Blaylock's Über-villain Ignacio Narbondo. (If you like the sort of humor where ordinary life is twisted into madcap lunacy, keep your eye out for Blaylock's The Digging Leviathan.)

One good thing is that in his letter to Natalie Solent he's given us all a great exculpation. No matter what hideous crime we are accused of, we can always say, "at least I'm not a Birkenstock-wearing Chomskyite!"

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

"To put the Enron money collected by Bush in his campaigns into perspective, John Huang raised 800 grand -- easily -- in just two White House coffees." --Rush Limbaugh

A small quibble: 3 times this week I've seen web gazetteers say of something, it's not rocket science.
There's no such animal. Rockets and missles are built by Engineers!

Writing this reminds me of something Isaac Asimov wrote. He had heard bright youths referred to as regular Einsteins until the phrase had come to grate unbearably on his nerves. He met Ben Bova; and he knew he would like the man when Bova referred to a promising young person as a regular Galileo.

Natalie Solent weighs in on the ever-popular subject of what horrible Slobbovians men are. Mostly she's right. But perhaps I could interject a few words for the defense. John Adams, after all, defended the redcoats who were charged with the Boston Massacre. So I will bring a point or two to your attention; not expecting to achieve, as Adams did, an aquittal, but perhaps some slight mitigation of the sentence.

Item: The terms, the definitions, the boundaries, used to frame this debate, are always set by the gals. Socks-on-floor are included, but a good Purdy paintbrush encrusted with dried paint is not.

Item: There are realms of keeping-the-house-clean other than floors and laundry. DRAINS for instance. Going under the sink to pull rusty pipes apart and remove unspeakable globs of slimy glop is usually something that guys do. That might be put in the balance pan, especially if the gooppety-glop is mostly long blonde hairs, and all the men in the house keep their hair sensibly neat and short.

Item: Guys sometimes deal with problems gals never even notice. Real-life conversation while driving on freeway. He: That front-end work was expensive, but we at least got rid of that horrible vibration! She: What vibration? You may be able to wash those socks just because your guy did routine maintenance on your water heater.

Item the last: This is something that is impossible to quantify, or even define, so I shouldn't bring it up. But no one is reading except my teeming dozen readers, so: When I think back on the days when I and most of my acquaintance were single (the single state being used here like an pure bacteria culture useful for study in the lab) I have no doubt that the females were tidier than the males. But my impression was that a substantial portion of women of that time (70's, 80's; hopefully things are better now) had time and energy to keep their little apartments neat as a pin because they never did anything interesting with their lives! Their only form of self-expression was shopping!

My friends and I were out swimming and camping and biking and building things, and playing sports; and there were always more guys than girls. And if the guys postponed their laundry in favor of a hike up Mt Tamalpais, well, it did get done eventually. (My own scheme was to have 30 of everything, so I only had to go to the laundromat once a month.)

Update: I should add that the part about one's efforts not being noticed is rhetorical, not personal; Charlene rarely fails to notice the things I do

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Cras amet qui nunquam amavit,
Quique amavet cras amet !

Let those love now, who never lov'd before:
Let those who always lov'd, now love the more.


We have some friends who moved to Paris about 10 years ago. (I sometimes feel envious, but then I remind myself of how they lug their groceries up the stairs to the 5th floor)

They work for a language school. Typically they run around town to different companies that have, say, an upcoming meeting with an American firm, and brush-up everyone's rusty English.

The first year on the job, they took a week's vacation. Didn't even think about it. BIG NO NO! At the end of the year the boss was very upset. 5 weeks is required by the law, and he had to give them 4 weeks of extra pay. "I don't want this to ever happen again!"

Now personally, I think the French way is very sensible. They probably make up for a lot of the lost man hours by having workers who are more healthy and energetic. We'd feel a lot more enthusiastic if we could take a week off every coupla months. I feel sinfully self-indulgent if I take a three-day weekend. But I would guess that the headlines we will be seeing will be: "EU Weakness Threatens World Economy," rather than: "Rising EU Tide Lifts All Boats."

Sunday, January 13, 2002

We live in a world of machines that ordinary people can't repair. Some are sealed at the factory. Some are full of chips and software. Many things are too cheap to repair. A new VCR costs less than repairing the old one. I've made metal parts to fix various gadgets like toasters, but more and more the parts are molded plastic. I used long ago to tune-up my car, but I wouldn't dream of it now. I grew up using metal oil cans with long spouts to squirt oil on various grateful gears and sprockets. But we seem to do that less and less.

It's frustrating. I like to repair things. It's not the job itself so much as the feeling of triumph when the weeping child's toy is brought back to life with a few Pop Rivets. Charlene sews well, but the children bring me their loose buttons and seams -- they know I can't resist the chance to strike a blow against entropy.

There's one happy little realm where I am still in charge. My SPRAY GUN. (It's an Accuspray V-Gun) It likes nothing more than to be totally disassembled, and to have all its finely-machined stainless-steel elements cleaned and lubed and caressed. It responds to attention. I have a big kit filled with spare parts: gaskets, springs, O-rings, bushings, etc. And though the documentation that came with it is wretched, when something goes wrong I can puzzle it out; it's transpicuous.

Just when I was feeling fairly good about having fudged up a weblog, along comes PhotoDude telling us gazetteers to stop trifling with paint-by-the-numbers Blogger and Blogspot; and put together real web sites.

Now I feel crushed, because of course he's right. I shoulda done that stuff years ago. Actually started to build a site several times. Photodude's luminous web site makes me want to give up and go back to paper and watercolors. Just look at THIS! AND THIS. And have a look at his Civil War Photos.The guy's a monster. A powerhouse. And he also writes well.

OK PhotoDude. Point taken. But I bet you fall down in some other sphere of life. I'll bet your garden is BORING! And you couldn't bake an apple pie to save your life!

Update: Having looked farther, I see that Photo is a web designer, as well as a photographer. So I don't feel so intimidated. But that's the coolest site I've seen in many a moon. Worth visiting just for the animated logo that appears on the bottom of many pages.

My son Rob was just amazed to hear about the statue of firefighters in New York being revised to reflect the politically-correct ethnicities.
How can they do that?
[Too obvious to answer]
Maybe they should add an extra figure and have a woman.
Sounds good.
And there's no asians. What were they THINKING?
And no Pacific Islanders.
And what about that statue of them raising the flag on Iwo Jima? Shouldn't that be changed?
Good idea.
And how about that picture of Washington Crossing the Delaware? Those are all white guys...
[Hmmm...I have a powerful graphics program* It might be fun to do some cut-and-paste and...]

The whole correct-ethnicity-in-images thing has just become a joke. Charlene and I read Forbes (good magazine) and it is always crammed with stupid ads that try to make big bland corporations less anonymous. You know: XAREX: We're not just Pharmaceuticals. We're Forest products, cruise missles, and education software! And all those ads follow a rigid code:
Two people=1 white guy, one black or woman
Three people= 1 white, 1 black, 1 woman
four=1 white, 1 black, 1 woman 1 asian
Five=1 white, 1 black, 1 woman 1 asian 1 vaguely Hispanic (and all of them wearing suits and posing like deep-thinking businesspeople)

And probably no one has imposed this. The ad agencies are just steeped in the usual correctness. Probably the modelling agencies have pre-mixed modules of models. "Hey Joe, send a fiver over to Ogilvy and Mather." Or maybe no one even thinks about it any more, it's just so normal that even if everyone involved were rabid white supremacists they would still do it. I can just see The American Nazi Party brochure coming out with ethnically-mixed brownshirts saluting the swastika -- and NOBODY NOTICES !

*The graphics program is CANVAS 8 It will do everything that Photoshop, Illustrator, and several other programs do (plus several things they can't do), at less than the cost of any one of them, so naturally it's not hugely popular.

Andrea Harris of Ye Olde Blog*:

"Which brings me to another point. There has already been some feminist grumbling on the overwhelming percentage of firefighters involved in the WTC rescue attempt who were male. Gosh, I guess it would have been better if it had been fifty-fifty male-female firefighters who were crushed by the Towers' rubble. Do these people even listen to themselves when they speak? "Oh, if only the Fire Department had met it's quota -- then there could be an equal number of dead female firefighters!"
I know a SF fireman, and once, while we were talking about female firefighters, he said something like: "...there's a such-and-such type of ladder, which weighs 600 lbs [or something like that]. The rules say six people are required to move it. But when things get hairy, two of us guys will just grab that ladder and do it."

That's what's never mentioned when the judge is reducing the physical requirements in order to get more women into the fire dept. The real life requirements are probably much higher than the official ones.

In general I'm for treating the sexes the same, but there are some jobs that just beg for guys with arms as thick as my legs, and brains small enough not to tell them to keep out of burning buildings.

And anyway, if feminists think women should have jobs traditionally filled by brawny guys, how come they aren't pushing for female garbage collectors?

*Which should be pronounced "The Old Blog;" see my post of 12/10/01