I've just seen the most amazing documentary on PBS. As some of you may remember from school, every 200 thousand years or so, the magnetic field of the Earth flips over (e.g. compasses would point south); the movement of the great plates over the surface was discovered by this reversal, which freezes the iron crystals of molten lava (and human pottery) into the direction of the local magnetic field. What I didn't know was that we are long overdue for such a reversal (the last was 780 thousand years ago) and the magnetic field of Earth has collapsed 10% just in the last 300 years...the precursor to such a flip. Though they're not sure, some evidence has the scientists thinking that such a total reversal of our magnetic field could take place in literally minutes...that's light-speed in geologic time. The implications of this event are enormous, a planet-sized event that our distant children will get to witness. It makes all our tiny little problems seem uniquely pathetic.
Speaking of pathetic problems, our bus strike is finally over here in Los Angeles...did anyone notice? Much as I love my home-town, it will never reach the human potential of a city with a reasonable transit system. It can only serve as the ideal metropolis for the well-to-do. That's my latest dig at LA.
Okay, onto the screed. THIS WEEK'S THEME is the good and bad that men and women do across the globe. You'd better get your sh*t together, because your compass is about to spin around.
First of all, yes, Victoria, it is the incredible weirdness of rathergood.com (warning, a broadband connection is helpful here) from Northern England. This is one of my favorite websites EVER. These two brothers do Flash videos of kittens singing punk songs, weird cartoons, and a game where by typing on your keyboard you can make Britany Spears cuss. For those of you who remember the "viking kittens" video of "The Immigrant Song" going around the Net for a while, now comes their version of Electric Six doing "Gay Bar" (thanks, Robert):
And a game (Tom, you will appreciate this) called "Gak Attack":
The whole website is full of rockin' good surprises and great music; if you need a break, take it here. I spent an hour here just laughing my ass off, especially at the "Touretteaphone":
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! I was given (by one of our clerks at work, Nancy Dannevik) another one of the weirdest websites I have ever seen. Did you know that thousands of people photograph their AIRLINE MEALS every year? Well, they do, and now there's a very nicely organized collection of them:
Although I prefer the gustatory delights at this website from England, "Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down":
I also commend this site for weirdness (thanks, Miles). I actually wasn't sure if this was a joke or not until I looked at one of the movies. WARNING! This is a site that likes a broadband connection and YES it could be considered obscene, although I thought it was just mildly funny. I get the impression that these might have been television commercials in Europe (which for all the obvious reasons would not work in the theocracy we've got brewing in the USA Under God.) How they're supposed to sell condoms I'm not so sure about:
You know, like the condoms:
The whole world is pushing the boundaries of raunchy:
French Underwear Shoppers Get Striptease Lessons
But that doesn't matter in the Christian White House. Let's just make George Bush the next Pope and forget about it. Remember Henry VIII? Anybody ever read about the interesting reformed Lutheran church that the Nazis used? Remember how some people worried that Ronald Reagan wanted to trigger Armageddon? Well, George read his Bible too. Step One: Bring on the Whore of Babylon (i.e. the EU):
Cut off their trade and unite your vassals against the Anti-Christ:
** Americas trade zone talks begin **
Talks have begun in Miami to finalise a long-debated free trade area for the the Americas, but early stumbling blocks have arisen.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/business/3279079.stm >
Brook no dissent:
Mexico U.N. Envoy Fired in U.S. 'Backyard' Row
But those tricky Europeans are more clever than the White House thought. They stopped their squabbling, as Chryssie Hynde sez:
Blair ally in poll threat to Bush
Nicholas Watt and Duncan Campbell
Sunday November 16 2003
George Bush will be served notice today that the deep hostility towards him in Britain has reached the Blair inner circle, when the former minister Stephen Byers launches a bid to destabilise the president's re-election campaign next year.
And what could be more destructive:
Workers Ready to Destroy Masses of Champagne
Our government continues to attack the underpinning of global peace and justice, like the International Criminal Court:
The only real victim: us.
Another American Casualty: Credibility
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Forty years ago, an important emissary was sent to France by a beleaguered president of the United States. It was during the Cuban missile crisis and the emissary was a tough-minded former secretary of state, Dean Acheson. His mission was to brief French President Charles de Gaulle and solicit his support in what could become a nuclear war involving not just the United States and the Soviet Union but the entire NATO alliance and the Warsaw http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14360-2003Nov7.html?referrer=emailarticle
Not that Europe isn't dangerous too:
Berlin Teen Joyrider Nabbed Driving Train
But it seems safer living there:
Or does it?
Berlin Pram Turns Up $39,000, Baby, Hashish
Does it really matter how others lead their lives; is it our business to interfere?
German Smokers Bury Health Warning Under Humor
Did Austrian Man Prompt Suicides for Sexual Kicks?
But we do more than interfere...we attack, we slander, we divide, and if necessary, we bomb and shoot and kill.
Richard Perle Denounces the Franco-German Couple
The Pentagon Calls on Berlin to Get in Line
Reseau Voltaire Net
This "American madness" is confusing the rest of the world:
News Analysis: Schröder is juggling France and America
By John Vinocur/IHT
But not for long; we're forcing the truculent Europeans together faster than they ever hope to achieve on their own:
They need all the help they can get...
'Cool' Germany Lashes Out at Dowdy Stereotypes
For the US, however, I am starting to think, like Gore Vidal, that we are on a suicidal course:
Commentary: U.S. and China are on a collision course
By Gene Sperling
And what a time to alienate China...as they assume their natural role of superpower on the world stage. That rocket into orbit was not a joke...imagine what the power of the whole state can launch into space. Red Moon, anyone?
** Taiwan tops out world's tallest building **
The world's tallest skyscraper is completed in Taiwan - a 91-storey office building in the capital Taipei.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3200160.stm >
Well, even the Chinese have a ways to go:
Chinese Hold Camel Beauty Contest
The French are asserting their historic innovation:
** France builds world's tallest bridge **
A motorway bridge under construction near Millau in France will be the world's tallest.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/europe/3237329.stm >
In every way they can:
Parisians Frown at Metro's 'Singing' Billboards
But all around the globe, people still try to regulate their behavior in ways that range from the sublime...
Fines for Kissing on the Subway
...to the ridiculous.
Singapore Policeman Gets Two Years in Prison for Oral Sex
I'll leave you today with two last screedlets...first, a very dense (but interesting) article about Darwin, evolution, sports, war, etc. (thanks, Dr. Brad):
And finally, why you should never, ever, ever fuck with a Canadian:
B.C. Man Kills Hungry Bear With Pocket Knife
Vive le screed!
19 November 2003