Greetings, many friends,
Holy shit, has it been two months already since we last communed? What a rollicking spring this turned into, and summer is a night away! I feel like I boarded that jet for Spain, hacked through the Iberian jungle with one of Pilar's cuchillos, flew back high on oysters, and then in Philadelphia accidentally got on the rocket for Alternate Earth instead of LA, a planet which turns more slowly than the last one I was on. I wish I could say, after ten years of 9 to 5 (or 8.30 to 5.30) that I feel guilty about my new part-time life of luxury, but it's GREAT. I'll take sleep and poverty over junk food and free health insurance any day. And as you can see from the lack of screeds, it's been a productive time for me...to busy even to harague my dear friends. I'm digging deep into my third novel, and in TWO DAYS in the desert (a writer's dream), whipped out a tell-all about my life at the library which may actually see print THIS YEAR. My name on a spine perhaps at last, and I still have a couple decades to enjoy all the things I used to sleep through. Woo hoo!
Should I also mention that it's hot here (at last), smog and pollen color the air, the moon is waning yellow and the purple jacaranda trees are in bloom? Too bad LA is such a pit, because this time of year it's almost livable, especially on the super-hot days, when twilight smells burnt. Remember friends...Wednesday is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year for us in the Northern Hemisphere, the day our ancestors had their Biggest Party, when the sunrise flows through Stonehenge and along the pyramids and into the passage tombs and all those rocks they lined up. If you can, get up before dawn and note where the sun broaches the horizon...and in a year, voila! There it is again. Then let the pagan revelry begin.
IMPORTANT news! I now have DSL, and so I also have a new e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org . That should be easy to remember; my email@example.com address (which I've had for ten years!) will be shut down today, on 20 June.
I also have new, exciting ways to be contacted! If you have SKYPE, you can find me at "cattylibrarian"...if you don't and have broadband access, I recommend it as instant messaging/internet telephony software. See http://www.skype.com/. I'm also keeping an eye on my teenaged friends and their favorite rock bands at http://www.myspace.com/cattylibrarian. It's a buggy site, but it's also a crack-up and hey, where else can you send a message to Keith Richards that he might actually read?
In addition to my website, soon to be revised at http://www.joelrane.com/, and the home of this screed at http://www.californialibre.com/, my new "local" screed, the musings of Los Feliz White Trash, is available at http://www.echoparkproductions.com/shousebound.html (look near the bottom of the page.) As I clear the junk out of my inbox (over 300 messages piled up since early April!) I will again be sending a calendar out, although it may not be weekly...my new philosophy of fun is, better to be alone by myself than alone with other people. So expect to see less of me on Front Street (how 80s) and more of me in the dark corners! Woo!
Now, for those of you who are NOT following the 2006 World Cup in Germany, I would like to translate the current results into geopolitical realities and grudge matches. For example:
GROUP A - In a rerun of 1939, Germany defeated Poland, Ecuador joined in, and they both punished Costa Ricans for their mistreatment of Nicaraguans.
GROUP B - England brutally revived the spirit of Empire with victories against Paraguay and Trinidad, but Trinidad struck a blow against Viking imperialism by holding Sweden to a draw. The Swedes, natch, took it out on Paraguay.
GROUP C - I don't know what Argentina and the Netherlands had against the Ivory Coast, but the Dutch took revenge for the embarrassment of the Srebrenica massacre by beating Serbia, and the Argentinians pounded that message home.
GROUP D - Mexico and Portugal became the first potential targets of Iran's future nuclear bomb, and Portugal rubbed salt in the wounds of its former colony, Angola.
GROUP E - As they did with Ethiopia in 1935, Italy picked on a defenseless African country by whipping Ghana, and the Czech Republic showed their bitterness for the United States not fully supporting the "Prague Spring" of 1968 with a sound defeat. Then the Czechs demonstrate their own contempt for Africa, and Italy and the United States did what they both do well: argued to no result.
GROUP F - The Aussies reenacted the invasion of New Guinea during World War II by beating Japan, and Brazil showed displeasure at the Croatian women displacing Brazillians from employment in European cathouses. Then the Brazillians showed the Australians that the samba trumps Midnight Oil any day.
GROUP G - The Swiss took revenge against the French for Napoleon's invasion of 1798, and helped Korea vent tiny-nation ambitions against helpless Togo. The French, meanwhile, got Dien Bien Phu'ed by the Koreans.
GROUP H - In a replay of the Spanish Civil War, Spain overwhelmed the Ukrainian commies, and not surprisingly, two Arab countries beat the hell out of each other, only to end in a tie for last. Then the Spanish taught the North Africans a lesson (again) and the Ukrainians, in gesture of Christian solidarity, did a Crusade number on Saudi Arabia.
Anyway, more serious implications of this global football conflict are mulled hereabouts:
Tony Karon How to Watch the World Cup: Politics and War by Other Means
"From contemporary geopolitical and cultural conflicts (or their historic echoes) to the impact of globalization, the World Cup offers a real-time snapshot of the state of our world," writes Tony Karon.
If you take your football slightly more seriously, you might want to check out these sites:
2006 Football World Cuphttp://www.viamichelin.com/viamichelin/gbr/tpl/
I noticed that Serbia and Montenegro are playing together as team...for the last time, probably. Let's welcome these newest members to the world community, Montenegro, a little haven of smugglers on the Adriatic, and Serbia, who are finally on their own again, to drink and raise hell and do the things that Serbs do best...good luck, guys. I have always been fond of Montenegro because of the movie of the same name ( http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0082770/) which I saw in high school, about a bored Swedish housewife who runs away to Yugoslavia to basically get fucked.
Official government site of this Balkan region, which passed a referendum in May 2006 to be independent from Serbia. The union of Serbia-Montenegro was formed in March 2003 as the successor state to Yugoslavia. Features news and other material about government activities and officials. Also includes audio of the national anthem and a fact sheet about the country.
And with that, on to the first SCREED for June 2006! This time I've collected all kinds of articles about TECHNOLOGY, thinking that the Solstice is a time for looking forward, not back. Vive le screed, et vive le futur!
First, as the title suggests, the DIXIE CHICKS and me are following a similar parabolic course:
John Nichols Dixie Chicks Are Number 1
John Nichols discusses the Dixie Chicks' new album as they climb their way back up to number one after taking major hits for speaking out against the invasion of Iraq, ten days before the war began in 2003.
For those not so fortunate, or my friends who have recently moved or are moving, or just live a "minimal lifestyle" but are thinking of movin' on up, a suggestion on how to stock up on free furniture...it's called "freecycling" and it's cleaner (slightly) than dumpster diving:
How to Furnish a Flat for Free
By Hugh Reilly
The Independent UK
I doubt you could freecycle one of these venerable machines, and I am happy to say I totalled one of these in Berkeley, because to ride one drunk was to truly conquer fear and good sense:
Vespa: the grande dame hits 60By Th. Groussin
The Vespa is, of course, a European solution to energy woes, and I found it interesting that their auto solution is different as well...not the gasoline hybrid, but a diesel model:
Are hybrids the timely solution?By Laurent Meillaud
By request, I include these sites for you Californians who are interested in "green construction" in these heady days at the top of the "bubble":
Collection of documents about green (sustainable) buildings, "structure[s] that [are] designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner." Provides details about green building materials, training programs for California state and local government, state initiatives and programs, and other general and California-specific green building resources. From the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
Extensive bibliography on sustainable design of buildings, with listings for dictionaries and encyclopedias, handbooks, histories, journals, and resources for codes and specifications, design, building materials, construction methods, environmental health, energy, case studies, and more. Includes links to additional research guides on solar design, daylighting (natural lighting), and other design topics. From the Environmental Design Library, University of California, Berkeley.
When you read these dull, bureaucratic websites, it almost gives you hope for the future, like Al Gore on tour! The other night I was watching a bizarre PBS show called "Closer to Truth", a bunch of hot-head scientists and other talking heads discussing different scenarios for the year 2025...very interesting, and surprisingly not too depressing. You can see the website for the show here:
One thing I did find disconcerting, however, was the large safety-pin one of the old men had through the septum of his nose...this wasn't "The Young Ones", but a bunch of guys over 50 sitting around a table talking about very arcane subjects. It really blew my mind, and good for him:
Speaking of blowing my mind:
Rival US Labs in Arms Race to Build Safer Nuclear Bomb
In the Cold War arms race, scientists rushed to build thousands of warheads to counter the Soviet Union. Today, those scientists are racing once again, but this time to rebuild an aging nuclear stockpile. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are locked in an intense competition with rivals at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Bay Area to design the nation's first new nuclear bomb in two decades.
I like the idea of a "safer nuclear bomb" and, indeed, I'm thinking of getting one for Christmas. Perhaps I can pick one up here, unless Al Qaeda beats me to it:
This site provides images of "the complete collection of maps from Carnegie's, 'Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats'. ... The first five maps reflect the worldwide proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their missile delivery systems. The country maps show the major nuclear installations, both civilian and military, in each country." Includes maps of Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, Pakistan, Libya, Israel, and other countries. From the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Hopefully there will be more positive advances we can look forward to:
15 Tech Concepts You'll Need To Know In 2006
Scientific and technological breakthroughs can take years to develop, but when they leave the lab and enter the world at large, word spreads quickly. Here's a look at the advances you'll be hearing about in the coming year.
BY ALEX HUTCHINSON
Or not look forward to:
"WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA?"
Well, let's not make this screed into another downer, it's the SOLSTICE for chrissakes. Here's a joke that you can use to teach your kids math:
About teachers who have gotten into trouble over using 'The L.A. Math Test' in the classroom.
The people who flunked that test are in charge of our government's "science program", if there is one...hey, what you don't know can't burn you, can it?
NASA Shelves Climate Satellites: Environmental Science May Suffer
By Beth Daley
The Boston Globe
Budgets Imperil Environmental Satellites
By Matt Crenson
The Associated Press
There's much more important tasks the Feds need satellites for:
Spy Agency Watching Americans From Space
By Katherine Shrader
The Associated Press
And like his idol, Mr. Reagan, Mr. Bush is fascinated by "Star Wars"...though I must admit, I finally saw Darth Vader get his mask in "Revenge of the Sith" (after Ewan MacGregor cut his legs off, shee-it!) and I understand the appeal:
A Safer Weapon, With Risks
By James Rainey
The Los Angeles Times
A laser device used in Iraq to temporarily blind drivers who get too close to troops is meant to reduce deaths, but it also raises worries.
Administration Conducting Research Into Laser Weapon
The Bush administration is seeking to develop a powerful ground-based laser weapon that would use beams of concentrated light to destroy enemy satellites in orbit. The largely secret project, parts of which have been made public through Air Force budget documents submitted to Congress in February, is part of a wide-ranging effort to develop space weapons, both defensive and offensive.
We better get our shit together before they finish the Death Star:
Bush Using Iran to Justify New "Star Wars" Program
The Bush administration is moving to establish a new antimissile site in Europe that would be designed to stop attacks by Iran against the United States and its European allies. The proposed antimissile site is the latest chapter in the long-running saga of the United States missile defense program, which began with President Reagan's expansive vision of a space-based antimissile shield.
Because stupid bit players will always ham it up for a role as the heavy:
Moscow Angered by US Plan for "Star Wars" Bases in Europe
In a move that is raising hackles in Moscow, the US is proposing to install an anti-missile defense system in central Europe to counter any future attack from a nuclear-armed Iran. For Russia, the project reeks of American encroachment into what used to be its own sphere of influence.
Might have to move out of the neighborhood if things get really hot...and we'll be prepared. We'll even have a GPS giving driving directions in outer space:
First Earth, now Mars for Google maps
To see the "face on Mars", go to the website above and type "cydonia" in the search box...zoom in (the best images are under "infrared"). You'll notice a lot of flat structures, including parts of the face itself...to a geologist's eye, islands in an ancient ocean eroded to flat mesas called "guyots"...and that's more exciting than a face.
Maps are great for understanding this weird world:
This site features cartograms, maps showing global regions "re-sized according to the subject of interest." Some of the many map subjects include births, total population, children, elderly, refugees, immigrants, tourism, transportation, and imports and exports. Maps are available in a printable poster format, and are accompanied by explanatory text and data files. A collaboration among the University of Sheffield (England), University of Michigan, and other groups.
Here's the strangest map I've seen lately: A completely virtual world called Second Life, where you can hang out, build things, gamble, meet strangers, make videos of your experience, and even buy "land" (not cheap, at $1250 for 16 "acres" and another $195 a month in "use fees"), but over 250,000 already call Second Life "home":
And naturally our government wants to be part of the virtual world as well:
Justice Dept. Rejects Google's Privacy Issues
The Associated Press
Federal Judge to Order Google to Release Data to Justice Department
The Associated Press
Not that my heart bleed for Google...they'll make out all right:
A search engine voice interface patent was granted to Google yesterday..."Google will be leveraging its logs of stored text and audio queries to improve speech recognition and relevancy, as the company does currently with text keywords."
In the long run it may not matter, because the Internet (at least in the US) might be up for sale:
Congress Is Giving Away the Internet, and You Won't Like Who Gets It
By Art Brodsky
House Rejects Net Neutrality Rules
By Declan McCullagh
Tollbooths on the Internet Highway
New York Times Editorial
The New York Times Keeping a Democratic Internet
Cable and telephone companies that provide Internet service are talking about creating a two-tiered Internet, in which web sites that pay them large fees would get priority over everything else. Opponents of these plans are supporting Net-neutrality legislation, which would require all web sites to be treated equally.
The End of the Internet?
By Jeff Chester
You can do something about it here (thanks, Mike):
i signed my petition.http://civic.moveon.org/save_the_internet?track_referer=706%7C3022531-.TSgt9fw4KC5gjiPz1nGIw
i hope you would participate too.
We'd better hurry, because the Internet is going to become ever more the glue that binds our society together:
The Future of the Internet: In a decade, the Net will dig deeper into our lives"
"One expects there to be much more organic connection between people and technology," says Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President & Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. In less than 15 years, digital devices connected to the Internet will be
transplanted in our bodies, threaded in our clothing and the dividing threshold between virtual reality and the real world will begin to disappear...
Newspapers will soon be replaced:
The Times Emulates Print on the WebMicrosoft and The New York Times have unveiled software that preserves the print edition's design online.
The Times Reader, a new "browser-like" program was unveiled by Microsoft and the New York Times yesterday. It will enable graphic designers to create online documents closely similar to the print versions. "We are trying to make a product, a news experience, that more fully engages our readers, that allows them to want to spend more time with us," said New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
And thankfully the Internet will never take itself as seriously as the New York Times:
The Shifted Librarian
Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte!
Hmmm... after reading through The Institute of Internet History, I'm starting to wonder if those people who think "Library 2.0" is nothing new might have a point after all. Maybe librarians just haven't taken full advantage of the technologies available to us in the past....
This site may aid you in your exploration of the Internet:
Awards for websites excelling in "Web 2.0" capabilities, such as "user empowerment and open-source applications online." Includes descriptions and rankings of the winning sites (in areas such as social networking and tagging), selection criteria, and an essay. Librarian Gary Price was one of the judges.
And whatever you do, do it soon...because this technology is a sign of the Apocalypse, it always has, and it always will be for some people.
RFID: Sign of the (End) Times?
Here's a young artist in Vancouver with a more humorous opinion of the invasive RFID chip:
Performance artist undertakes RFID road trip
We hope you enjoy it!
By the way, you notice that the Canadians are even polite in their form letters. "We hope you enjoy it!" Such enthusiasm. Well, it's much drier, to-the-point in the form letters of my Alma, UC Berkeley, where nerds in smocks do daily battle with the laws of physics (and Bay Area ambition):
Story Title: The future of computers - atomic sized bits - electrons
The "computer" is poised to become ubiquitous...not just a machine, but everything, from wine-glasses to silk dresses, becomes "smart":
The mix of water and nanowires has the potential of increasing memory devices storage capacity by 10000 million times more information...
Story Title: Nanowires
It's almost...definitely creepy:
Nanodevices That Assemble Themselvesby David Pescovitz
At a more laid back Alma of mine, ex-champ USC, the kids just sit around, do a lot of mushrooms (according to a classmate at the time, who lived in the frats) and watch weird things in the neighborhood:
USC News Story: scientists observe chemical reactions in real time
...and of course more artists have an opinion on this new technology:
An online exhibition showcasing the works of eight artists/designers concentrating on nanotechnology...
I think the next few years might be pretty far out (thanks, Geri):
Time Travel in our lifetime?
My inner physics geek is sooo excited..
And digital immortality by 2050
And one of the first people to get her "robot body" and do time travel, I predict, will be Paris Hilton, after she wises up and builds a party Hilton Hotel on the Moon. Thanks to Leo Sullivan, I can also offer more proof that Una Szeemann is NOT Paris Hilton; first, of course, Una can read and write, but Paris is far more even-tempered, as this "rock video" demonstrates:
If we make it that far, me thinks, having just seen Paris Hilton's friend Al Gore (with a more dignified gray) interviewed by Charlie Rose (who just got a new heart valve in Paris, and looks like Skeletor). If Greenland sheds its winter coat (more on that in the next SCREED), we'll do well to have one of these:
Article about how "researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering and Imperial College London have developed the blueprint for an invisibility cloak." The invisibility cloak would be made of "exotic artificial composite materials called 'metamerials'" and "electromagnetic waves would flow around an object hidden inside the metamaterial cloak." Researchers believe "the cloak could have numerous uses, from defense applications to wireless communications." From the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.
And what's as superhero cool as being invisible? How about...
Invention: Viper visionNewScientist.com news service
Although not quite as rad, this next innovation may be more important in the long run:
The Return of the E-Book
Welcome at ViaMichelin,
Just as some technologies return in a more practical form, some return like a bad penny; people still argue that we need nuclear energy when an easier solution, to develop fuel cells that each of us could power a house and a car with, would be much cheaper, because it would eliminate the middleman, the utilities that burn oil or uranium and sell us electricity over inefficient copper wires. I'm glad to see this sentiment in France, which is sustained by nuclear power:
Activists March Against France's Plans to Build New Generation of Nuclear Reactors
By Sylvie Corbet
The Associated Press
Yes indeed, although even the way they've handled nuclear power has that wonderful French pragmatism:
Why the French Like Nuclear Energy
by FRONTLINE producer Jon Palfreman
I appreciate that European love-hate relationship with technology (and practicality); thrill, for example, at this Formula One racer tearing through Paris early one morning in 1976 in a Ferrari. This is the best 8 minutes you'll enjoy in a long time, even if you've never been to Paris (thanks, Adam):
C'est en 1976, après avoir terminé son dernier film, que Claude Lelouch s'est trouvé avec une bobine où restait une dizaine de minutes non utilisées.
Il a alors eu l'idée géniale d'organiser une espèce de course dans la capitale française. Sans demander d'autorisation à personne (he, oui, cela a existé, il n'y a pas si longtemps que ça) et avec l'aide de quelques-uns de ses collaborateurs, Lelouch décide de tourner le film par un beau matin du mois d'août, profitant ainsi d'une circulation plutôt légère.
Partant de la Porte Dauphine jusqu'à Montmartre, le trajet choisi est un des plus beaux de la plus belles des villes : Av. Foch, Place de l'Etoile, Champs Elysées, Concorde, Louvre, Opéra, Pigalle, Montmartre.
La voiture est une Ferrari 275 GTB, celle du metteur en scène lui même.
Le film fait presque 9 minutes, à pleine vitesse dans les rues de Paris, et il est dit que, lorsqu'il a présenté le film au public, le metteur en scéne a été interrogé pour donner des informations sur le pilote de la voiture.
Il a répondu qu'il s'agissait d'un pilote de Formule 1, mais s'est refusé à révéler son nom.
Plus tard, aprés des investigations, la police parisienne est arrivée à deux noms, Jacques Laffitte et Jacky Ickx.
And to bring you down, here's something to ponder: the history of music as mapped by the London Underground; if you know anything about music history, at least you'll be impressed by the effort (and should be able to date the artist's musical taste). Half the fun are the acidic comments left by Brits wondering why the artist even bothered:
This February 2006 map plots "the history of 20th century music on the London Underground map devised by Harry Beck in 1933." Lines are renamed for music genres such as soul, reggae, pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, electronica, and classical. Includes an article explaining how the map was plotted and many reader comments. From the Guardian Unlimited, the online companion to the British newspaper The Guardian.
And finally, on a musical note...a very strange video, not quite as dated, done by Canadian John Kricfalusi (of "Ren and Stimpy") for the most famous person I ever made a pass at, hot Björk Guðmundsdóttir, then of the Sugarcubes:
Vive le screed!