Sunday, July 31, 2005

Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age narrates this BBC Radio documentary on the return of the Pixies.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

This New York Times article explains the economics of used books and the Internet, including how doesn't lose money selling used books at the same time they sell new books.

"[T]here are two distinct types of buyers: some purchase only new books, while others are quite happy to buy used books. As a result, the used market does not have a big impact in terms of lost sales in the new market.

Moreover, the presence of lower-priced books on the Amazon Web site, Mr. Bezos has noted, may lead customers to "visit our site more frequently, which in turn leads to higher sales of new books."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Boston Globe presents this gallery of bad album covers featuring the worst in '70s and '80s fashions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

According to this Boston Globe article, next year a British company called Intelligent Energy will begin selling a motorbike powered by a fuel cell. Fuel cells use hydrogen for fuel and their exhaust is water.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Stick Man Movie Scenes asks, "So you've seen a lot of movies? Can you name the movie being acted out by Stick Man and his friends?"

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Frank Rich explains the story lines of the Valerie Plame/Karl Rove scandal in his New York Times column:

"When you look at the early timeline of this case, rather than the latest investigatory scraps, two damning story lines emerge and both have legs. The first: for half a year White House hands made the fatal mistake of thinking they could get away with trashing the Wilsons scot-free . . . The second narrative to be unearthed in the scandal's early timeline is the motive for this reckless vindictiveness against anyone questioning the war."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

This Christian Science Monitor article explains the history of the ingredients of a banana split:

"Bananas got to be big business in America not long after they were introduced at Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition of 1876. Bananas wrapped in tinfoil sold for 10 cents apiece. Soon merchants were establishing banana plantations in Central America and shipping the fruit to the United States. The United Fruit Company, which came to monopolize the banana business, grew so powerful that it virtually controlled the governments of some Latin American countries. (You've heard of a "banana republic"?) Part of the fruit's popularity was the fact that for a long time bananas, along with oranges, were the only fruits available in the winter."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mike Davis explains the strange plans for the future of the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai in this article.

"After Shanghai (current population: 15 million), Dubai (current population: 1.5 million) is the world's biggest building site: an emerging dreamworld of conspicuous consumption and what locals dub "supreme lifestyles."

Dozens of outlandish mega-projects -- including "The World" (an artificial archipelago), Burj Dubai (the Earth's tallest building), the Hydropolis (that underwater luxury hotel, the Restless Planet theme park, a domed ski resort perpetually maintained in 40C heat, and The Mall of Arabia, a hyper-mall -- are actually under construction or will soon leave the drawing boards.

Under the enlightened despotism of its Crown Prince and CEO, 56-year-old Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Rhode-Island-sized Emirate of Dubai has become the new global icon of imagineered urbanism. Although often compared to Las Vegas, Orlando, Hong Kong or Singapore, the sheikhdom is more like their collective summation: a pastiche of the big, the bad, and the ugly."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Nostalgia Central lists "40 Things That Only Happen In Movies," including:

15. All grocery shopping involves the purchase of French loaves, which will be placed in open brown paper bags (Caveat: when said bags break, only fruit will spill out).

33. All beds have special L-shaped sheets that reach to armpit level on a woman but only up to the waist of the man lying beside her.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Valerie Plame/Karl Rove scandal is just a small part of what's going on at the Bush White House. Frank Rich steps back and examines the big picture in this New York Times Op/Ed.

"The difference is that this time Mr. Rove got caught.

Even so, we shouldn't get hung up on him - or on most of the other supposed leading figures in this scandal thus far. Not Matt Cooper or Judy Miller or the Wilsons or the bad guy everyone loves to hate, the former CNN star Robert Novak. This scandal is not about them in the end, any more than Watergate was about Dwight Chapin and Donald Segretti or Woodward and Bernstein. It is about the president of the United States. It is about a plot that was hatched at the top of the administration and in which everyone else, Mr. Rove included, are at most secondary players."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Follow this link to photographs of very unusual mammatus clouds taken in Nebraska in 2004.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

David Ansen asks, "Is Anybody Making Movies We'll Actually Watch In 50 Years?" in this Newsweek article.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

As this Newsweek article explains, Presidential advisor Karl Rove was the source of the leak that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent.

Is this the end for Karl Rove? Slate's Timothy Noah thinks Rove should be fired and has started his Karl Rove Deathwatch. Marshall Wittmann disagrees in this TPMCafe post writing, "for Bush to get rid of Rove, would be like Charlie McCarthy firing Edgar Bergen."

Monday, July 11, 2005

The U.S. Air Guitar Championships will be held this Thursday in Los Angeles. In this New York Times article, Dan Crane, whose air guitar name is Björn Türoque (pronounced tu-RAWK), discusses the history of competitive air guitar.

"Air guitar is not about pretending to be a rock star. You must be that rock star. You might not need to put dry ice in your armbands to create smoky contrails as you strum, but it helps."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

David Plotz reports what it was like to be in London today after the terrorist attacks in this Slate article:

"The natural state of the English is a kind of gloomy diligence, which is why they do so well in hard times. In 1940, Londoners went dutifully on with their business while the Luftwaffe bombed the hell out of them. Today, most of them are doing the same. I was in Washington for 9/11, and the whole city went into a panic. Offices emptied, stores shut, downtown D.C. became a ghost town. But in London today, everyone still has a cell phone clutched to their ear. The delivery vans are still racing about, seeking shortcuts around all the street closures. The Starbucks is packed.

And when I walked by the Queen's Larder Pub, not half a mile from the Tavistock Square wreckage, at 11 a.m., a half-dozen men were sitting together at a sidewalk table, hoisting their morning pints of ale. Civilization must go on, after all."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Senator Barack Obama discusses his views on America and our place in history in his Knox College Commencement Address.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Author David Foster Wallace discusses life after college in his Kenyon College Commencement Address.

"Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about."