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November 26, 2005

How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later

In my writing I got so interested in fakes that I finally came up with the concept of fake fakes. For example, in Disneyland there are fake birds worked by electric motors which emit caws and shrieks as you pass by them. Suppose some night all of us sneaked into the park with real birds and substituted them for the artificial ones. Imagine the horror the Disneyland officials would feel when they discovered the cruel hoax. Real birds! And perhaps someday even real hippos and lions. Consternation. The park being cunningly transmuted from the unreal to the real, by sinister forces. For instance, suppose the Matterhorn turned into a genuine snow-covered mountain? What if the entire place, by a miracle of God's power and wisdom, was changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, into something incorruptible? They would have to close down.

How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later by Philip K. Dick.

November 21, 2005

Orchestra Pit

Want to play with Apple's Front Row without buying a new iMac? Check out the hack I'm calling 'Orchestra Pit'. (Disclaimer: randomWalks did not originate any of the technologies or techniques known as 'Orchestra Pit' -- we just gave it a fancy name.) Just download:

Then follow the directions that come with Front Row Enabler. What's it good for? Well, it's a nice way to show off a photo album, and it's good for watching movie trailers. For much else, you'd really want a remote control.

November 19, 2005


The process of Apocalypse involves a realization that Western civilization is founded on a fundamentally flawed conception of time. Through our solar calendars, desynchronized from natural cycles, and our technological projections, we have reified a conception of time as an unvarying linear extension akin to space, in which ultimate fulfillment or completion lies in a far-distant and undefined future condition. We are constantly projecting our hopes, dreams, and desires onto the future — acting as though the present moment is somehow insufficient, founded upon a lack or failure of being.

Daniel Pinchbeck guest-blogs at Non-Prophet.

November 18, 2005

shopping for board games

We used to be a family. Now we are four women carrying heavy grocery bags past an unshaven man in an armchair who is staring intently at his thumbs.

The New York Times: Board Games to Put Families Back in Play

How Much Is My Blog Worth?

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Downloadable wallet guide to pesticides in produce

The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce lists the 12 popular fresh fruits and vegetables that are consistently the most contaminated with pesticides and those 12 fruits and vegetables that consistently have low levels of pesticides. If you are concerned about pesticides in your diet, the handy wallet card can help you choose produce that lowers exposure to pesticides for you and your family.

If (like me) you can't afford to buy organic all of the time, check out this guide to which foods are more and less likely to deliver pesticides.

flickr: get a pro account

flickr ad on Rocketboom today (17 November)

November 17, 2005

guess who's coming to dinner?

Most vegetarians prefer not to have their food or utensils touching meat or other animal-derived foods. This preference is similar in concept to keeping kosher. In practical terms, some individuals who have “kept vegetarian” for years may endure significant intestinal distress if they ingest meat or grease. When you’re cooking for your vegetarian guest, please keep utensils separate (for instance, do not use the same spoon for deglazing the roasting pan and then serving plain steamed vegetables) and do not label a food “vegetarian” if it includes chicken, beef, or veal broth.

This article about hosting a vegetarian guest for Thanksgiving includes recipes and delves into some etiquette and lifestyle concerns that I’ve not seen discussed before.

NPR : 'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

NPR : 'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

He objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming and when asked about it he says 'I don't know.' He turns the room's lights on when there is broad sunlight outside.

Howard Dully was lobotomized at 12, apparently because his stepmother didn't like him. The above, from lobotomist Walter Freeman's notes supporting the procedure, aptly describes my five-year-old son. The story is available as an mp3 from NPR, and transcripts and extras are at Sound Portraits.

November 16, 2005

schooled to blog

Tremendous! Fantastic! Erica Jacobs has her 108 high school English students blogging!

November 15, 2005

Nuclear Power: it's a motherfvcker, don't you know

After a few hours at Yucca Mountain, it becomes clear why, despite a desperate need for a solution to the nuclear waste problem (there is already enough waste in temporary storage to fill it), the site has not opened: No one is absolutely sure what will happen if it does. If all the regulatory hurdles are cleared, if Nevada loses its political battle and Yucca Mountain’s license — which Benson says will be measured in “linear feet,” not pages — is finally approved, the waste that goes into it will last for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. “We don’t know what will happen in 10,000 years,” Benson admits. “Will people speak English? There probably won’t be a United States.”

From part 2 of Judith Lewis’ timely and important article in the LA Weekly: Green to the Core? How I tried to stop worrying and love nuclear power.

Open Source Mac software

Open Source Mac "is a simple list of the best free and open source software for Mac OS X."

November 14, 2005

George Saunders

Silly Powell's Q&A with George Saunders, whose books you should be reading, right now.

November 8, 2005

National Podcast Radio

George Hotelling nails exactly what's so great about NPR's most interesting podcast.

November 7, 2005

group cube

group cube
Originally uploaded by Xavier de San Diego.

(I'm not sure what's going on here.)

the Astor Place cube has a name

Remember the Alamo? After Eight Months, the Astor Place Cube Comes Back

"I actually thought we would put it on this post and we’d turn it to the position we wanted it and then stick it like that." But it was never bolted in place. In any case, "I did not realize that the turning was such a factor in people’s enjoyment of it."

People just love that thing. I didn't realize I had an emotional attachment to it until I walked by one morning and saw it covered with some type of sheeting. I thought something was going to happen to it and got very upset.

Kerouac Wear: A beat generation mad trick?

A line of Kerouac clothing will hit stores soon, including dinner jackets. It is inspired by his sense of style, if not the jeans and khakis he actually wore.

Lowell Sun Online - Why is Kerouac on Lowell's back burner?

"Excuse me. Are those Kerouac™ jeans you're wearing?"

November 5, 2005

Apple designs differently

Apple's Front Row Comes Closer to Couch-Driven Computing

Where most of the computer industry trudges on under a banner of "more" -- more processor speed, more expansion ports, more stickers on the front of the computer -- Apple's mission statement amounts to "less." It is one of the few companies in the business that understands editing -- how the discipline imposed by having to remove yet another button, menu and toolbar can yield simpler, easier and more useful products.

spirit of the meadow

spirit of the meadow
Originally uploaded by ranjit.

The iPod’s interface could be even better

Playlist: The iPod’s interface could be even better

iTunes has those lovely little Arrow icons next to a track’s name that, if Option- or Alt-clicked, take you to the entry and its surrounding album tracks if you’ve sorted tracks by album. I’d be thrilled if there was some way to open an album or artist entry from within a track’s Now Playing screen on an iPod.

This is the outstanding feature iPod needs most.

November 1, 2005

sweet Star Wars exegesis

Star Wars: Episodes I-VI - The greatest postmodern art film ever. By Aidan Wasley

Emperor Palpatine, the embodiment of the Dark Side, taunts the despairing Luke in Return of the Jedi, "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design," and we are led to understand in Sith that it was Palpatine himself who set the entire plot in motion by manipulating the Force toward Anakin's virgin birth. Palpatine is the emblem of the artist as clockmaker or puppet master, the omniscient manipulator of his hapless characters for the purposes of a satisfying narrative payoff. At the end of Jedi, in a scene out of Pirandello or one of Ashbery's own plays, the characters assert their autonomy and kill their author.