Angels from Another Pin
(Lost Cities)

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1 May 2001 - 31 May 2001

"Forgive me gumball machine, for I have sinned. It's been a week since my last confection..."
That's not a car. It's a midlife crisis with racing decals.
Of course it's not fair. We're evil. Look it up.
But truly excellent at believing the most preposterous things.
How many times must Tokyo be destroyed before you learn?
I got a crick in my neck from watching the miracles go by overhead
Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy submarines
Rage Against Mr. Clean

(The Side of the Angels)

Every day:
Acid Reflux

Sluggy Freelance

Help Desk Letterman Top 10 Infraday:
RPG World Weekly:
31 May 2001
Weird Things I Know About Where I Grew Up #183: Norristown is the fictional birthplace of Marvel Comics villain Basilisk.
This is a cool illusion.
30 May 2001
The chief scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program has created a hiking map for the "Face" on Mars. Bring plenty of water and oxygen if you decide to make the trip.
Jan Vermeer was one of the greatest painters who ever lived, in my opinion. His work was human and serene and amazingly technically adept. You may think you've never seen anything by Vermeer before. You have.
In Britain, Big Brother is watching you. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.
25 May 2001
29 May 2001
There will be no updates these days. Vacation! Woo!
24 May 2001
My mother probably won't understand why I almost snorted cola up my nose laughing at this. The rest of you guys, dive in.
I remember, when I had just started driving, that the common wisdom said that using unleaded gasoline would damage your engine's valve seats. It turns out that was a lie promulgated by the makers of tetraethyl lead additives to keep me buying deadly lead. Huzzah for the robber barons.
The world's astronomers have been discussing for about a decade whether or not Pluto is a planet. The measurement of the diameter of an object out in the Kuiper Belt has re-ignited the debate. "Where are we going? Planet Ten. When? Real soon."
The Silophone is Silo #5B-1, which used to store grain in the port of Montreal. "Due to changes in the global grain market the elevator became obsolete and was closed in 1996. The structure, constructed entirely of reinforced concrete, is 200 metres long, 16 metres wide and approximately 45 metres at its highest point. The main section of the building is formed of approximately 115 vertical chambers, all 30 metres high and up to 8 metres in diameter. These tall parallel cylinders, whose form evokes the structure of an enormous organ, have exceptional acoustic properties: a stunning reverberation time of over 20 seconds. Anything played inside the Silo is euphonized, made beautiful, by the acoustics of the structure. All those who have entered have found it an overwhelming and unforgettable experience."
23 May 2001
This history of the last of the Bonaparte line is badly written but fascinating.
Sonoluminescence explained.
There are exactly a dozen prototypical jokes about engineers. Here they are.
22 May 2001
Jimmy Carter is a great ex-president. He has a lot of cogent things to say about Bush's so-called energy policy.
A little cosmology for your reading pleasure. This article contains a little more on the ekpyrotic universe theory.
The truth about Mars, revealed!
Bruce Sterling speaks about libraries. "Maybe we're about to radically change the operating system of the human condition. If so, then this would be a really good time to make backups of our civilization."
Call it the new version of the "Powers of Ten" book we had when we were kids. It's the Atlas of the Universe.
21 May 2001
Sometimes it was done to remove racism. Sometimes it was done for the less-lofty goal of making more time available for commercials. No matter the reason, there are a lot of scenes missing from cartoons on TV these days. Noel Tominack
Mike Ryan will like this one. Smithsonian Magazine did an article on wargaming. It focuses on the historical aspects of the games.
You need to know your local siderial time. We all do.
I believe that math should be kept out of the hands of whackos who "study" the Great Pyramid. It's like giving a child matches.
18 May 2001
Bob the Angry Flower (via the link in "The Side of the Angels," to the left) is very cathartic today. "Smackety smackety smackety!!!"
Perhaps you think President Bush's plan to give religious organizations federal money for social services is a good thing. Well, if you look at the disaster caused by the intermingling of religion and government in Utah, you might change your mind.
A Las Vegas not-quite-pimp named Eddie Munoz claims that the phone network in Las Vegas has been compromised by hackers, and he's managed to get the Nevada PUC to open an investigation into it. The Mob, sleazy business, and Kevin Mitnick, all in one article.
Although he didn't live to see it, Douglas Adams has been honored by the naming of asteroid 18610 Arthurdent.
17 May 2001
A scientist named Ronald Mallett has a theory that you can create a closed, time-like loop (a time loop, for all you Dr. Who fans) with two powerful beams of light. The slower the light is traveling, the better this theory works. Then Mallett hears about the folks who have slowed the speed of light down to a few meters a second. So now Mallet is going to attempt to build the world's first time machine. If he's right, we get time travelers from the 50TH century buying all our Elvis memorabilia. If he's wrong, we get to point and laugh.
Speaking of the future, you can now build a supercomputer with Macintosh computers you can buy in your local CompUSA. Mike Ryan
You can see the Great Wall of China from orbit. With radar.
Organic LEDs. Welcome to the future. Glenn Juskiewicz
Whomever is hitting the brakes on the Pioneer probes, please stop. Thank you. Sincerely, NASA.
Who killed Westinghouse?
16 May 2001
So, what was a dollar worth when you were a kid? Noel Tominack
How does a train carrying flammable, caustic chemicals travel halfway across Ohio with nobody on board?
The Internet Engineering Task Force (the folks who maintain a chunk of the standards that make the Internet work sensibly) has released RFC3098, an informational memo regarding spam. (Mike Ryan notified me this RFC existed, but he was too lazy to dig up a link to it. So he ain't gettin' his name into the much-coveted Right-Hand Column. Oh, yeah, boyz, carrot-and-stick.)
Sam Brown draws some odd and occasionally brilliant stick figures. People send him random sentences, and he creates little sketches based on them. It is an exploration of how much information can be crammed into a very small amount of ink and color. Or Sam Brown is insane. It's hard to tell.
= Learn how cigarettes can make robots cool.
= See what happens when you misplace your head and the Universe peeks through the resulting hole.
= Discover the futility of a curriculum displaced from the needs of the student.
= See a love poem written in the language of pharmaceutical chemistry.
= Feel science.
= See color explain love.
15 May 2001
"The revolution will not be televised" was said by a fellow named Gil Scott-Heron. I feel rather un-hip for not having known that.
Ancient Egyptians offered mummified animals as offerings to particular gods. "People used to purchase animal mummies made by priests as prayers - like lighting candles in a church," says Dr. Ikram. (Part of a short article from the BBC explaining how to "adopt-a-mummy.")
I'm all for futuristic gadgets, and wearable computers...But when I was a kid, they had much cooler names in the sci-fi books than what this company has come up with: the Peel-It, the Jango, and the Flippo. It's hard to look like a die-hard cyberpunk when someone asks what you're wearing, and you have to reply "That's my Jango 2000, drekhead." Glenn Juskiewicz
14 May 2001
Scientists claim to have awakened extraterrestrial bacteria from their eons-long slumber. (Glenn found this on the MSN Pets page. I suppose a mad scientist might consider adopting an alien microbe as a cuddly pet and naming it "Fluffy"...) Glenn Juskiewicz
Douglas Adams is spending the rest of eternity dead for tax purposes.
Now the world has gone to bed,
Darkness won't engulf my head,
I can see by infrared,
How I hate the night.

My mom is reading this Web page now, so we all need to be polite. :)
11 May 2001
2002 Olympic mascots
On the one hand, a pogo stick that will jump 80 inches in the air is really keen. On the other hand, when a scientist says "When you are up there, it feels like you’re in free fall from the moment you leave the ground," you know there's something wrong with college science courses. (Physics 101: Once you leave the ground and are into the jump, you are falling.)
Just when we thought the world couldn't get more like a pulp SF story, we receive news that psychiatrists are seeking a way to measure evil. I recommend adding a metric unit of evil, the hitler. Sadly, the hitler would be like the farad--way too damned large to use for most real-world measurements. We'd wind up having to use microhitlers for most calculations.
I never knew that Jack London, the author of The Call of the Wild, wrote science fiction. And it's good science fiction. View the glorious socialist paradise a man called Goliah made in the far-flung future year 1925: "All will be joy-smiths, and their task shall be to beat out laughter from the ringing anvil of life."
10 May 2001
Speaking of Kansas, it would appear that the state is vanishing.
Top Ten Things Never Before Said By A United States Senator. "Last night Strom Thurmond and I got absolutely wrecked at the Eminem concert"
Pennsylvania high-schooler thinks he's speaking to the Kansas Board of Education. Film at ll.
9 May 2001
Speaking of asteroids, this plot of the major and minor planets in the inner solar system, updated regularly, is the coolest thing I've seen in weeks. I have this urge to save the .gifs each day and build a little orbital movie.
The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center maintains the list of those asteroids which came closest to hitting the Earth. The one which came to within 70,000 miles of Earth--nine planetary diameters--is particularly unsettling. (This is like having a bridge fall onto the highway only nine carlengths behind your Sentra.)
Another fine IADL. "Formula 409 Bathroom Cleaner: Now with Scrubbing Reapers™!"
8 May 2001
Aiieee! The computer is talking to me again! Mike Ryan
Think the whole JFK conspiracy theory paranoid delusion is stupid? Well, it turns out there are people who concoct conspiracy theories about Christopher Columbus.
The world needs a few more mad scientists who work for the side of goodness and light.
7 May 2001
Run! Insane console mascot with a gun!
Ah, here we go: the Electric Monk. "So after a hectic week of believing that war was peace, that good was bad, that the moon was made of blue cheese, and that God needed a lot of money sent to a certain box number, the Monk started to believe that thirty-five percent of all tables were hermaphrodites, and then broke down."
I did a search on "Electric Monk" and discovered that, although I had been seriously worried about the state of the Internet, WEB14 STATUS is OK.
Pre-Revolution Russia, in color. Mark Sachs
4 May 2001
Have we interfaced on the quid-pro-quo regarding compartmentalizing the metrics on this confab?
I now understand why Terry Pratchett is so weird. Fish fall from the sky in his country.
Taking the trash out for a spin. Mike Ryan
The Product Placement Bible. It's not the must-have book for people who do product placements. It's the Bible. With product placements in it. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with Brylcream; my Super Big Gulp runneth over. (Psalms 23:5)
How to write unmaintainable code. I think we need more awareness training like this for the world's programmers. Mike Ryan
Matt Smith turned me on to Dennis Leary, who is one of the funniest mean people in the world. Read a transcript of Leary's No Cure for Cancer standup routine. Laugh.
3 May 2001
Some radiators are highly intelligent.
One in a thousand of the dust particles on your desk is a micrometeorite.
2 May 2001
This fellow has translated some commonplace names into Tolkien Elvish. Erufailon
It's a Disfunctional Life. One of the best is: "Nearly 15,000 Toyota Nyarlathoteps were recalled on Friday..." which is also captioned, "On the road of life, there are passengers, and there are GIANT CAR-SMASHING DEMON BADASSES!!!" (This one is for Matt Smith.)
"Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." An online text of the famous speech from the movie "Patton."
1 May 2001
This time on Scrapheap Challenge your task is to build a riot-control APC! You have the resources of this lovely scrapheap and 10 hours before May Day riots start in Britain.
If you're inside when the Rapture happens, do you smack your head on the ceiling while rising to Heaven? The Church of Shatnerology believes you do!
So, how are you celebrating May Day? I'm going to spend the day laughing at the people who still think Communism is a good idea.
A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries. That's reasonable. Mike Ryan

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