Friday, July 29, 2005

Breaking news from Anoka County

Overheard exiting the Coon Rapids Wal*Mart:
"Ok, so now we'll go to Costco.
And then we'll go to Petco."

Maybe that's not news.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Wait -- free ice? I accept!

I guess the economy really is improving. Today is the first day in years that I got to my office and found an email from a headhunter asking me to submit my resume. Well.... ok, it got sent to all federal employees. Even though it says that families and children cannot accompany the employee on the assignment, it says right here in black and white that ice is provided. Along with the food and water. And I don't even have to share a bedroom!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Wiggly Wiggly Wild Side

I don't know how. I don't know why. But the Wiggles went and covered Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side."

via Copy, Right? and probably not there for very long.


I also scour the Web for blog entries from economists, ministers, artists, arts administrators, scientists, teachers, journalists, and storytellers. But you know, some weeks, the funny video clips and songs just rise to the top. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Martha and Cookie

In an effort to revive the flagging stock price of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Ms. Stewart invites Cookie Monster to guest on her show.

Cookie, I'll give him credit, is working hard. He's in a tight spot. Martha as host, is the "straight man" and is feeding him plenty. But it's not his show, and he's there not for a three minute segment but apparently the whole show. And he's improvising off whatever Martha gives him.

This is a gig from hell.

Especially as Martha feeds him his cue line to go off too early.

Martha also can't treat him like a three year old, but can't treat him like an adult.

It's not a train wreck, but I can't help but think a gaggle of writers would've kept this to four minutes, tops.

Monday, July 25, 2005

While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

Virtuoso Jake Shimaburo plays George Harrison.
(Quicktime movie)

Harrison played the banjolele and the ukulele, often for his friends, rarely recorded (although he's got two songs on his last album, Brainwashed). Shimaburo though... he plays the uke better than anyone. Better than Tiny Tim, better than George Formby, better than George Harrison. When Jake plays, it sounds like a musical instrument, and not a toy.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Breaking news from Anoka

Some of our number is stationed this week in Anoka, MN to cover breaking news there. Blognabbit expects updated coverage soon on an emerging story in the Anoka County Union involving resident Muriel Pederson:

Muriel Pederson has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon at the age of 86.

Between her visits to the Coon Rapids Senior Center, being a member of the Red Hat Society, volunteering and spending time at the flower shop -- Pederson Floral Co. and Greenhouse -- she says she enjoys staying busy.

"I can't just sit around. I have to be doing something," Muriel said.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Indoor Childhood

I've always known that kids were moving from playing outdoors to playing video games. Heck, Chris and I were in the first wave of those kids. But the rate of decline in outdoor activities for kids in the past ten years is astonishing...

In 1995, 68% of children ages 7 to 11 rode a bike at least six times a year. Last year, only 47% did.

Six times. Half the kids in this country didn't get on their bikes more than six times.

Art of Science Competition

Members of the Princeton academic community were invited to submit images connecting science and visual arts. Observe many beautiful results, including "Wake of a Pitching Plate", described by James Buchholz and Alexander Smits:

These images contain top and side views of the wake produced by a rigid plate pitching about its leading edge in a uniform flow (flowing left to right). The leading edge of the plate is hinged to the trailing edge of a stationary symmetric airfoil. The wake is visualized using fluorescent dyes that are introduced through a series of holes on each side of the airfoil support. Twice in each flapping cycle, a horseshoe-shaped vortex is shed from the top, bottom, and trailing edges. The vortices become entangled to form the chain-like structure shown here. Studying such wakes is believed to be important for understanding the mechanisms of thrust production in fish-like swimming.

Never In My Wildest Dreams Did I Think I'd Get Bored Watching Robots Fight

From The Onion:
Who doesn't love robots? They're scary, they're powerful, and they're intelligent. They're frickin' cool, is the long and short of it. And robots fighting?! That's off the charts, as they say.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Treasury of Photography

Abridged from the NYT "Amassing a Treasury of Photography"

The George Eastman House in Rochester and the International Center of Photography in Midtown (NYC) have begun a web-based collaboration to contain some of the world's best-known photographs and photographers. The Web site -, now active only as a test site, with a smattering of images - is expected to include almost 200,000 photographs when it is completed in the fall of 2006, and as both institutions work out agreements with estates and living photographers, the intention is to add tens of thousands more pictures.

While there are now dozens of growing digital databases of photography on the Web, many - like Corbis and Getty Images - are commercial sites that do not allow the public unfettered access to their collections. The Photomuse site will join others, like the digital collections of the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford, England, that are beginning to create what amounts to a huge, free, virtual photography museum on the Web.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Cellphone catapult

Nothing to do today? Performance art group Monochrom issues you an invitation: "... [M]onochrom would like to initiate a competition. We invite interested persons to design and build a catapult capable of hurling a cell phone or a PDA unit the greatest possible distance. "

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Storytelling in Oklahoma City

Tim is in Oklahoma City this week for the National Storytelling Conference. Why Ok City? Conference memorializes the personal stories of those who suffered in the blast at the federal building ten years ago. Including:

Bud Welch, who lost his 23-year-old daughter Julie in the Oklahoma City bombing, will share his story of moving on from wanting execution for bomber Timothy McVeigh to becoming a leading opponent of the death penalty: how vengeance and rage turned into reconciliation and even sympathy for Timothy’s father Bill McVeigh.

Riding the waves with Chummy McSharkbait

To quote Roddy McCorley, "Who went and filled our [White House] press corp with actual reporters???? And why do they hate America?"

An excerpt:

Q Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of answers you've just given in referring to the fact that everybody who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy defense. I mean, the reality is that you're parsing words, and you've been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't he?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Democrats: Here Do We Go From Where?

I'm terribly afraid, oh so afraid, that this post will go away in a few days. I don't know if it's possible to keep certain content up if it is planned to have a short shelf life, specifically, this content by Ian Frazier in New

If you know how to keep it forever fresh and alive, like with formaldehyde or mothballs or something, please please do something now before it's too late.

Otherwise, read it fast.

Monday, July 11, 2005

"Scott, this is ridiculous."

Below, a series of questions to White House press secretary Scott McClellan regarding Karl Rove's involvement in exposing the identity offormer CIA operative Valerie Plame. Since the recent indictment of NYT reporter Judith Miller, I've tried to read a coherent explanation of why Miller was jailed while commentator Robert Novak walked. I found no account which was both clear and neutral. However, I found a different sort of pot o' gold in today's pile-on by the White House press corps.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

SFGate: Culture Blog!

The Chronicle staff now has a collaborative blog on arts and culture, broadly defined. Burritos, Tom and Katie, Karl Rove.

Add another feed to the list. (I'm rapidly approaching 50 feeds at my Bloglines account, which is, in fact, too many to keep up with).


"It was inevitable. Some nutcase would eventually create a comprehensive online directory of San Francisco taquerias.

It would feature a wealth of information on over 150 local (SF only) burrito shops and trucks.

Its listings would be sortable by name, neighborhood, how it had fared at the hands of a ruthless 12-category rating system, and the number of times it had undergone this terrible onslaught of scrutiny.

Each taqueria would have its own page on the site, complete with an original, subjective description. It would note any pertinent issues regarding its appearance and clientele (if any), whether it’s take-out only, whether their menu features breakfast items, whether they’re open late (or real late), whether there’s a gumball machine on the premises, and whether there’s some dude behind the counter making a racket with a meat cleaver on a giant cutting board.

These pages would also include a street address, telephone number, pricing information, and photograph for each taqueria, as well as links to both a Google map and the SF Department of Public Health’s page for the burritoeatery in question...."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Motorcycle Instructions

Our beloved caregiver, Davien, gave Ronan a 3-wheeled battery-powered motorcycle manufactured in China. It came on his first birthday, and he could barely perch on it, let alone drive it. Liam wasted no time in cruising back and forth along the 25 feet or so of available driving space from front door to back door. To ease the boredom of this daily commute, one could press a button which played a tinny pop anthem to a driving beat: "I wanna dance dance dance til the sun don't shine woah! woah!" Soon the battery died an early and blessed death. We explained to the boys that the motorcycle is broken and we don't know how to fix it.

From the operating instructions:

"Thank you for purchase our electromrtive [sic] three-wheeled motorcycle. When you own this perfect vehicle, you can find that it will give your child a wonderful childhood."
"Avoid riding at street or somewhere which near the waterhead because the child's eyeshot is limited."
"The vehicle equip with the annunciator, which can whistle and glitter when you push the button of it, and if you release the button the whistle and glitter will stop."

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thinking Outside the Lunchbox

(from the Center for Ecoliteracy)

"But I Am a Child Who Does" (like Spinach). Sandra Steingraber muses on her kids' eating preferences without a television, and with the help of an organic farm and a grocery co-op.

Deirdre and I have been talking about the amount of refined sugar in the snacks we give the kids, and ourselves. The other day, when I ran out of cookies to bring to work, I brought grapes and mini-carrots. My sweet tooth didn't notice a difference.

Other Thinking Outside the Lunchbox essays

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Jester 3.0

This has been around since 1999 at least, but I just stumbled across it. Collaborative filtering, applied to a database of jokes.
Rate 15 jokes, and it serves you up ones it thinks you'll like.
The more you rate, the better it gets (although I don't know the size of the database.... I got some clunkers... either diminishing returns, or maybe the set of people who respond to a web site like this (created as a research project at Cal's School of Information Management and Systems).
in any case, you get some jokes out of it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Wizbang Blog Standalone Trackback Pinger

As far as I can tell, you can't ping a trackback on another blog from Blogger, so the Wizbang Blog Standalone Trackback Pinger can do it for you.

The safest family car, a holistic approach

The only thing I can tell about Gary Bloom is that he's a member of the Bayosphere, the Citizen Journalism site for the Bay Area started by Dan Gillmor. This appears to be his only blog entry, so far, but it's a good one: an in-depth look at what makes a vehicle safe-- safe from a personal point of view, safe from a public point of view.

Food for thought. Our mechanic is convinced that we could run our 97 Civic into the ground sometime around 2017, but we'll probably get another car before then. An Accord? A hybrid? With our surplus of electricity, a souped up golf cart would be cool, but only as a second car. (I know some Prius owners are hacking their batteries to run a power cord from the house... but that's a bad idea... the Prius batteries aren't made to do that).