Friday, February 07, 2003

And the Beat Goes On...and On....and On...and On....and On...

     In what has to be the most ridiculous waste of time ever, avante garde composter...ahem, I mean composer John Cage's 639-year-long musical composition was begun on a German church organ Wednesday. Yes, you heard that right. The piece lasts 639 years. Currently, the first three notes of the late author's piece, called As Slow As Possible are being played and will go on for a year and a half.
     I have to confess here, I don't know much about John Cage's music, other than the fact that his estate/record company sued a guy awhile back for stealing his brilliant idea for an album track of just minutes of silence, entitled 4'33", which he released in 1952. Look, I dig the whole "avant garde" thing and maybe this is just some sort of Warhol-ish prank Cage played on the world. If so, hats off to the guy, it's gotta be the greatest practical joke in history, 'cause hundreds of years after the guy's dead some moron's liable to be sitting in a church in Germany waiting for the last note of this song to finish so he can clap and stomp his feet and that's pretty funny, but It's hard for me to believe that even he could have taken this seriously enough to expect someone would ever play the thing in it's entirety. There's a huge difference, to me, at least, between something being art and being novel and I think this is merely a cute idea taken to ridiculous extreme and I have to question the sanity of the folks behind this.
     Have to admit, though, I'm curious as to whether the whole song will ever be played out, a lot can happen in 639 years.
Paint it Black

     Scientists have created the "blackest" black ever, by dipping a shiny surface momentarily in nitric acid. They plan to use this super-black surface, which reflects 10 to 20 times less light than the black paint currently used to reduce unwanted reflections in telescopes, to improve the way we see the universe and allow intruments here on earth, as well as the Hubble, to see farther and better.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

One Word

     This site simply presents you with one word, each day, and asks you to write about said word for sixty seconds, after which, you can see what kind of things others were inspired to say and the results can be interesting.

The Days of Wine and Spandex

     Denim and Leather celebrates the era of the eighties hair band, when bands like Accept and Motley Crue threatened a worldwide shortage of hairspray and studded belts were a staple fashion accessory. There's an extensive list of the players of the era, along with games, a thesaurous and numerous links to the subject.
     Jeff, Phil...I don't know if you guys ever read this thing or not, but this one's for you, you headbanging freaks.

Neurotic Poets

     A site that takes a look into the minds of several poets, such as Edgar Allen Poe (above), whose briliant legacies seem to point out a link between their artistic genius and their troubled mental states and asks the question of whether the two might be linked. Along with Poe, tragic luminaries of prose such as Dickenson, Plath and Shelley are profiled and I noticed, in a blurb at the bottom of the homepage, there's a profile of Jim Morrison in the works, as well, which is only fitting. I think The Lizard King would have fit right in at a cocktail party with this crew.
A Journey Into the Mind of a Parrot

     I don't know what to make of this site,'s about the late budgie parrot, Victor, whose owner claims that not only could his bird talk, but that he understood language and could carry on conversations with a human-like grasp of the ideas conveyed by speech. He's compiled tons of sound files and research data about the bird and seems absolutely serious about it. I'm not sure if the guy's parrot was a genius or if it's some elaborate hoax but it was an interesting site, nonetheless and you can make your own conclusions.

Do We Really Need This Stuff?

     The Museum of Weird Consumer Culture, a tribute to the most perplexing, unnecessary and downright idiot consumer items around, such as the dog diapers pictured above. I don't know, though...I really think the solar-powered milk frother sounds like something everyone should have. I don't know how I've managed to live without it this long, frankly.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Public Domain Photos

     A rather large collection of public domain photographs as well as other resources for raw image material for projects you may have in mind. Mostly gathered from N.A.S.A., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other govt. sources, these images are available for fair-use application with some restrictions applying.
     The main site, Grokking the Gimp, is full-to-bursting with tutorials and info on the freeware graphics application, which many prefer or put on par with Adobe's Photoshop product. I must admit I've never used the Gimp but I hear it's a great program.
In Memory of the Columbia

     With the loss of the Columbia shuttle and it's crew today, I felt it would be a slight to them not to say something here. It's hard to think of anything to do but express my utmost sympathy for their families and my absolute respect for the people who were onboard.
     While watching the reports on the news yesterday morning, I was reminded of something Tom Wolfe said, regarding the Apollo program, in his book, The Right Stuff:

     What is it that makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle, such as a Redstone, Atlas, Titan or Saturn rocket, and wait for someone to light the fuse?

     There are people out there, unbelievably, who actually tried to profit off this tragedy. I was amazed to read that within hours, perhaps minutes after this catastrophe, auctions for bogus "debris" from the craft were on Ebay.
     There are those who'd rejoice in it, as well. Many Iraqi's reportedly have, calling it "God's vengeance" for encroaching on their land.
     I can't begin to describe how these reports sickened me. As far as vultures of the Ebay auctions are concerned, there's probably nothing anyone could say to show them how misguided and base their actions are, I imagine their hearts are so jaded that nothing could elicit pangs of concience from them.
     To the people of Iraq, though, I would ask that they to take no joy in this event, as it was not a tragedy to be mourned by only Americans, but by everyone. The seven astronauts on board, I believe, weren't in space for the benefit of one nation or for Western culture's advancement, but for all of humankind. I truly believe that although they were patriots, one and all, their grandest goals in life weren't merely the advancement of the United States of America, but the the advancement of the entire world and it's people.
     Russell 'Rusty' Schweikart, upon returning from his mission on Apollo 9, remarked:

     "As you pass from sunlight into darkness and back again every hour and a half, you become startlingly aware how artificial are thousands of boundaries we've created to separate and define. And for the first time in your life you feel in your gut the precious unity of the Earth and all the living things it supports."

     Reading that, it makes you think that if everyone could see the Earth from that viewpoint, it might go a long way towards achieving some sort of brotherhood among all the world's people. Even if we had the resources to achieve such a thing, though, it would still be impossible, perhaps, as not everyone has the courage of the seven people that died yesterday, nor the vision to look beyond their earth's war-torn borders towards a better world for us all.
     Their bravery and their willingness to sacrifice their lives in the name of furthering the scope of man's knowledge should be commended and their heroism remembered always.

     Man must rise above the Earth - to the top of the atmosphere and beyond - for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.

- Socrates
Barry's Blog

     This is old news by now, I realize, but Dave Barry has a blog. I know a lot of folks dig his humor, so if you happen to be one of them and weren't aware of this fact, you might want to swing by and check it out.

Consoles that Sucked

     A look at game consoles that didn't make it. Either their price tags were outrageous, their concepts were flawed or they just never really had a good reason to exist in the first place.