Sunday, February 28, 2010

Farewell Grog

FOT and frequent commenter Grog has returned with his wife Anita to Indonesia where they will get busy readying for the arrival of their first child.

Good luck Grog. Keep in touch.

Mumbo Jumbo Rhubarb Rhubarb…

I present this without comment for your entertainment…

Via FOT Molly’s blog A Little House in the Clouds

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Great tweet from Roger Ebert today...

"There are no atheists in foxholes, and no health care opponents in cancer wards."

You vill buy zee color teevee and you vill vatch!

From the Guardian UK comes an article by Corey Doctorow that has something to do with the BBC and some British agency called Ofcom and DRM and the auctioning off of British spectrum…

Right? Fascinating stuff?

But in the course of the commentary, he also tells the story of the transition in the US from B&W to color television. Even Werner Von Braun is involved!

And of course the space geek in me can’t let the Von Braun bit slide by without comment. Before I paste some of the article and share a video, I will say that the Von Braun part seems apocryphal. There is no doubt about his Nazi past but Disney's efforts to burnish his image as he took charge of the development of the Saturn V rocket would seem to require a little bit more documentation that Doctorow provides. Still, its an interesting story…

In the mid-1950s, NBC (a broadcaster whose parent company, RCA, made colour sets) began the process of rolling out colour broadcast apparatus across the nation.

But there was a problem: there was practically no colour programming. Broadcasters didn't want to commission colour broadcasts to transmit to a nation of black-and-white sets; viewers didn't have any reason to switch their sets to colour if everything being aired was in black-and-white.

There was one source of ready-made colour material that could have gone out over the airwaves: Hollywood had been shooting feature films and accompanying short subjects in colour for decades and had amassed a prodigious back-catalogue of material that might have jumpstarted the colour TV transition.

There was another problem, though: the studios hated TV, feared it, and would like to have seen it dead and dusted. It was the competition.

Until Walt Disney decided to build Disneyland, that is. To raise the $17m he needed to embark on a mad scheme called Disneyland, the company raised millions by opening their vaults to ABC.

In 1961, the Disney show moved the NBC, where its mission became the promotion of colour TV. The programme was eventually retitled Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, and each episode featured subjects that were apt to make the black-and-white viewer feel like she was missing out on something special, indeed.

The video below is a great example of the programing that they created. It features The Spectrum Song as performed by Ludwig Van Drake who Doctorow describes as a “remix of the Nazi war criminal and rocket scientist Werner Von Braun, whose reputation Disney had helped to rehabilitate with TV specials that presented the former SS Sturmbannf├╝hrer as a cuddly, daffy scientist who would help America win the space race.”

A great, pure sales pitch for color TV, hidden in an animated Nazi duck scientist. Again, it’s a gol’dang weird world.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Another Celebrity Following Me on Twitter…

It has been a rather typical Monday. Late start, lots of traffic, a day full of conference calls and angry e-mails…

As I was sagging into my seat under the weight, I clicked over to my private e-mail account to see the most amazing subject line ever: “Lou Barlow is now following you on Twitter!”

Hell yeah! Lou Barlow to the rescue again.

And no, I’m not even paying attention to the fact that he follows anyone who follows him (3,331 followers and following 3,209). I’m just going to take the “feel good” and try to stretch it through the afternoon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sign Language: Director's Cut

Oh, hey. Look at that. Didn't even notice that there was a director's cut available. So, here it is.

Sign Language

A sweet little movie found via Neatorama

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hey Pope! Keep your hands off my record collection!

I haven’t pulled any punches in my occasional criticism of the Pope and his flunkies but this time its personal.

The Vatican is treading on my turf!

According the Wall Street Journal (and dozens of other sources), the the Holy See’s official newspaper, L’ Osservatore Romano, published what it called “a semiserious guide” to the top ten rock and pop albums of all time.

Or, what I am now referring to as Pop(e) Rock.

Whether or not the Vatican has any authority on morality is one thing but there should be no question whatsoever that their reach does not extend into my record collection. That’s right, I said it, “record” collection.

Curious what the Pope jams in his Pope-mobile?

1. Revolver by the Beatles
2. If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby
3. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
4. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
5. The Nightfly by Donald Fagen
6. Thriller by Michael Jackson
7. Graceland by Paul Simon
8. Achtung Baby by U2
9. (What's the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis
10. Supernatural by Carlos Santana

Hey, it could be worse. I could fire a couple shots at each of these but considering the source, this isn’t as out-of-whack as I had hoped.

Still, a dangerous precedent don’t you think? We let him in the door with his not-bizarre CD’s and the next thing you know he’s staking out our liquor cabinets and bedrooms.

Which leads me to the title of my next record: It’s a Slippery Slope When it Comes to the Pope. In record stores soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ron Houben Update

There is some news in the case of Ron Houben, the Belgian man who was thought to be in a vegetative state for 23 years but who appears to have had almost normal brain activity the entire time.

Recall from my posts here and then here that a speech therapist supposedly broke through to Houben using the discredited technique of Facilitated Communication. (For more on FC, click here.)

Dr. Steven Laureys, Houben’s neurologist, initially seemed to buy into the claims of the speech therapist but promised a more thorough investigation. Now, Spiegel Online is reporting that…

Laureys has now carried out those tests, and his results hold that it wasn’t Houben doing the writing after all. The tests determined that he doesn’t have enough strength and muscle control in his right arm to operate the keyboard. In her effort to help the patient express himself, it would seem that the speech therapist had unwittingly assumed control…

In the more recent test, Houben was shown or told a series of 15 objects and words, without a speech therapist being present. Afterward, he was supposed to type the correct word — but he didn’t succeed a single time.

There is no lack of research on the subject of FC. It has been unequivocally shown that all communication is done unconsciously by the facilitator, a phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect. (For more on the ideomotor effect, click here .)

It's a crazy dol'gang world right?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hairy Mary!

Behold this video of a truck crash. The driver fell asleep but the on-board cameras stayed awake.

Beware this video of a truck crash. There is no visible personal injury but people were no doubt grievously injured. This is a violent wreck so, you know, choose wisely.

Perhaps my favorite element is the English language translation of, I guess, the native Taiwanese. It’s like accidental poetry.

When affairs took place
Car up the camera took
Of actual condition

The left side camera
Claps of condition

The right side camera
Claps of condition

The guard only needs a second
But get hurt is
An Influence lifetime.

Indeed. Truer words, truer words…

When celebrities goof...

Drew Brees, quarterback of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints has a birthmark on his right cheek. When Oprah welcomed him onto her show she thought it was lipstick from a wayward kiss and tried to wipe it off.

Oops! Reminds me on a night just last week when I asked a waitress where she was from because I couldn’t place her accent. Turns out that she didn’t have an accent but a speech impediment.

At lease no video exists of my gaffe. Oprah? Not so lucky.

Don't know why I have more on Doug Fieger than I had on J.D. Salinger. I guess Salinger didn't put out enough videos...

Straight from the serious journalism department at Entertainment Weekly comes the sad news that Doug Fieger, lead singer of The Knack, died at 57 after a battle with cancer.

I distinctly remember people talking about The Knack being the new Beatles back in the day. “Get The Knack” was released in 1979 and while it spent six weeks at number it certainly didn’t have an “A Day in the Life”…

Still, I’m going to get my skinny tie out of the closet and reminisce via the magic of YouTube…

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Maybe it was a fever dream…

But I swear, I swear, that I was filling up with gas last night and looking at the “gas TV” on top of the pump and all of a sudden a hot, bubbly Entertainment Tonight-type host came on and said “Here are two of the founding members of Camper Van Beethoven accompany you while you pump your gas.”

And then the two guys played an abbreviated “Take The Skinheads Bowling.”

I scrambled for my phone to obtain video proof but it ended as quickly and mysteriously as it started. “Drive safe!” said the bubbly hottie and it was over.

Anyone out there able to confirm this observation for me?

Friday, February 12, 2010

An early Valentine

From our friends at XKCD ...

(Click to embiggen...)

Happy Darwin Day!

Darwin Day is a much better holiday than Talk Like a Pirate Day...

A Brief History of Pretty Much Everything

This Jamie Bell’s final piece for an art course – a flipbook animation made entirely with Biro pens. “It’s something like 2,100 pages long and about 50 jotter books. I’d say I worked on it on and off for roughly three weeks.”

And no, I have no idea who Jamie Bell is.

Via Phil Plait’s Bad Astonomy blog…

TMUOTF: Now The Uncoolest Thing You Can Do On The Internet

From the Guardian UK’s Technology Blog yesterday…

Last week, the US research organisation Pew Internet published an extensive survey that appeared to sound a death knell for blogging. It found that where, in 2006, 28% of teens described themselves as bloggers, that number has now tumbled to 14%. As the technology writer Nicholas Carr wryly concluded on his blog, Rough Type , the survey "put a big fat exclamation point on what a lot of us have come to realise recently: blogging is now the uncoolest thing you can do on the internet".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Moratorium on Space Posts Temporarily Lifted

Copped word-for-word from Boing Boing …you know, to save time…

Rusty from SomaFM writes,

"The Space Shuttle Endeavour has taken off and is in space, traveling to the International Space Station where it will be delivering parts including the third connecting module known as 'the Tranquility node' to the station. It's also bringing up a seven-windowed cupola to be used as a control room for robotics. The mission will feature three spacewalks."

"You can hear it all mixed with electronic ambient music on SomaFM's Mission Control channel .

Just go to and click on Mission Control.

"The best time to tune in is around 2pm pacific time (06:00 GMT), when the astronauts are just getting up and starting their checklists for the day. Astronaut sleep periods are approximately from 6am pacific to 2pm pacific. There will be minimal mission audio at that time, but the rest of the time all sorts of stuff is going on."

Moratorium back on…

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Copped word for word from the very cool blog Iconic Photos

On 13th June 1981, a tourist in London photographed the Queen of England reviewing her troops at the annual Trooping the Colour. Six shots rang out and the Queen’s horse shied. Members of the crowd, police and troops guarding the ceremony quickly subdued the shooter, who told them “I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a somebody”.

On his return home, the tourist, Georg P. Uebel, developed his film and discovered the above picture, which he turned over to the British police. They used it to prosecute Marcus Sarjeant, an unemployed 17-year-old, inspired by the recent shootings of the Pope, Ronald Reagan and John Lennon, to attempt an assassination on the Queen. He only fired blanks, and the Treason Act sentenced to five years in prison, a sentence for what he did, not for what he might have done.

The picture was made public at his trial in May 1982 but did not attract that much attention. It was as LIFE magazine called it, “a misfired moment of minor note”. More shocking however was the fact that at the time of his arrest, Sarjeant had on him a tape noting his intent to attack the Queen again with a loaded weapon.

Sarjeant wrote to the Queen from prison to apologise, but he never received a reply. Released in October 1984, at the age of 20, he changed his name and disappeared into history, a mere footnote.

Try this at home!

How to levitate by standing next to a wet spot on the sidewalk…

Via Boing Boing .

What was your first concert?

I always cringe when that conversation comes around because my answer is Kansas. It was the Portland Civic Center in Portland, Maine during my first summer as a Junior Counselor at summer camp.

David Johansen* opened up in support of his post-New York Dolls / pre-Buster Poindexter record “Live It Up” which I remember specifically because he was awesome.

Kansas? All I really remember is that they played “Dust In The Wind”, performed to perfection here by the Muppets very own Beaker.

Like it when the Muppets do pop music? Here’s another one.

*Six Degrees of Separation from David Johansen: He is the distant cousin of FOT (friend of Tim) VA who happens to be the WOB (wife of Bob) who was the drummer in the legendary It Can’t Happen To Me (ICHTM) and is a sometime-commenter here at TMUOTF. I know. WTF?!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Is that the forumla to calculate the diameter of a circle?

I concluded my post on the Tea-Bagger convention by noting that Sarah Palin would be delivering the keynote address.

And then, in the greatest gift to bloggers ever, Palin delivered that speech and took questions while sneaking peaks at crib-notes she had scrawled on the palm of her hand!

Check out the video. It's pathetic.

Insert pithy but disgusted comment about the state of things here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Teabagging and Happy Endings

Thought I might grab you attention with that…

Littlefoil and I were at Friendly’s restaurant the other day and after we finished lunch our waitress cheerfully asked me if I wanted a happy ending,

Which, in the world of casual dining ice-cream restaurants, means a little ice-cream sundae for dessert.

And I was transported to a marketing meeting at Friendly’s corporate HQ…

Sr. Marketing VP: OK team. We need a snappy name for the dessert that will come with the lunch specials…let’s just spit-ball some ideas here…shout ‘em out.

Marketing Flack #1: How about “Afternoon Delight?”

Sr. Marketing VP: I like it. Might have a problem getting the rights though. Have legal call the Starland Vocal Band and make inquiries. Good start though, Anyone else?

Marketing Flack #2: How about a name that suggests something luxurious…like a “Pearl Necklace?”

Sr. Marketing VP: Not bad…a little off-topic but I like your thinking.

Marketing Flack #3: How about a “Dutch Oven?”

Sr. Marketing VP: A what? No…focus people! Ice-cream is what we do here. It’s what brings ‘em in…keep going…

Marketing Flack #4: I’ve got it! How about the “Rear Admiral?”

Annnnnd scene! Twenty five minutes later they settle on “Happy Ending.”

Someone in that room knew right? Someone must have known. And they kept their mouths shut. Probably figured that they’d let the Sr. VP hoist himself on his own petard. Probably never dreamed that “Happy Ending” would actually make it through the vetting process.

And the next thing you know, I’m having a wholesome father-son moment with Littlefoil and being propositioned for a hand-job at the same time.

I picture the very same scene way back when the Tea-Party protesters were getting organized. Only this time it wasn’t around a conference table at a corporate HQ but rather around the kitchen table of some crazy, Christian, conservative nut-job (CCCNJ).

CCCNJ #1: You know…I’m just not ready to raise my family in a socialist country!

CCCNJ #2: And that’s why we need a snappy name for our conservative, racist, homophobic anti-tax movement that won’t reveal how far out on the fucked-up fringe we are.

CCCNJ #1: You’re right! Something that harkens back to a simpler time when we didn’t have to worry about godless communists teaching evolution in integrated classrooms!

CCCNJ #3: Something that connects us to the past…to our history…

CCCNJ #1: How about we organize a modern-day tea party?

CCCNJ #2: That’s it! And we’ll call ourselves “Tea-Baggers!”

And thus, you and I have the distinct pleasure of watching a bunch of racist homophobes proudly refer to themselves as “Tea-Baggers.”

Life does have its rewards.

Oh what’s that you say? Maybe I’m being too hard on the Tea-Baggers? After all, “racist” is a pretty strong word…

Yes it is! Strong and appropriate. ABC reported on the first ever National Tea Party Convention where the opening night speaker was former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo).

Tancredo ripped into President Obama and the “cult of multi-culturalism.”

“Multi-culturalism”…thinly veiled code that even the racist rednecks at this convention understood.

Still have doubts? Tancredo went on to assert that Obama was elected because “we don’t have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country.”

It appears that Tancredo was not taught evolution or history in school. Before the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965, many southern and western states used elaborate voter registration procedures and so-called “literacy tests” to deny blacks the right to vote.

Another glimpse behind the curtain!

Oh, by the way, guess who will be delivering the keynote speech at the National Tea Party convention tonight...

Sarah Palin.