Archive for May, 2004

Back in my day, they showed us films of horrible car crashes to scare us into driving safely!

May 06, 2004 in Linkage

From the Internet Archive, a collection of old driving instruction films; including the infamous Signal 30, a graphic car crash film that was shown to drivers ed students for over 40 years.

I remember being shown this film in high school for purposes of nostalgia, rather than instruction. Anyone else ever see this in school or otherwise?

Don’t code your blog posts by hand any longer!

May 05, 2004 in Tech

Movable Type users: If you’re not using a third-party blog client to post to your blog, you’re doing way too much typing!

Unless you prefer to input all of your HTML by hand, a blogging client will greatly simplify the process of posting to your blog. I assume that all of you fine readers are smart individuals who have already taken advantage of this technological innovation. But if you’re not hip to it yet (hell, I only just learned about it recently), here’s the gist.

There are three blog clients geared specifically towards MT. If you want something simple, try MTClient. It doesn’t have the most attractive interface, and it lacks a help file, but it works with a minimum of configuration.

My preferred client is SharpMT. It’s attractive, full-featured, updated frequently, and it supports plug-ins! (Don’t ask me where you can get ‘em though). You’ll need to install the Microsoft .NET framework (from Windows Update, 23MB) to run it.

I haven’t tried Zempt yet, but it looks like a fine program. It also supports plugins, and you can even call it through a browser bookmarklet.

In short, the above blogging clients have just about all of the posting functions of the MT web interface. You’ll wonder how you updated your blog without it!

Today’s strange music

May 05, 2004 in Linkage

Adam Kempa illustrates how to use a spectrograph program to extract an image of Richard D. James’ (Aphex Twin) face from the second track of the Windowlicker EP (with photos).

Also illustrated is how to make sounds with your own graphics, using the free (for home use) Coagula Light. If you like Coagula, try the author’s Granulab program. Just input a .wav file and move the sliders to make some truly fucked-up noise.

Empty-Handed has alerted me to the existence of Comfort Stand, a free online record label whose latest “release” is an imaginary metal band from 1982 named Iron Metal. Inspired by a Krokus concert video, two teenagers from Alabama create a fictional Yugoslavian metal band, and these home recordings are the result.

Comfort Stand also has one of the new releases from the inimitable R. Stevie Moore, who is probably the most brilliantly prolific, lo-fi, home recording artist in existence. (Yes, he’s even more prolific than Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices!) If you’re in the mood to be totally bewildered, try navigating Moore’s website. Never have I seen such an egregrious use of free web hosting services!

Did I mention that everything listed above is free?

The real reason behind the Iraq War

May 05, 2004 in Current Events Books | The cult that’s running the country

This excerpt from Joseph Wilson’s new book The Politics of Truth, offers a lucid explanation of the real reasons behind the Iraq War: the cabal of neoconservative hawks at the highest levels of our government and their Middle East agenda.

Wilson, as you may recall, is the husband of Valerie Plame, the CIA operative that was outed in a column by conservative columnist Robert Novak. Wilson, a respected diplomat, debunked Bush’s allegations about Saddam’s attempt to purchase uranium from Niger. For that, he has been subject to a smear campaign by the Bush Administration, and his wife, a secret agent, has had her career destroyed.

‘Nuff said

May 02, 2004 in Linkage

Winnipeg Sun: “Creepy Olsen twins frighten me”

Great album, bad movie

May 02, 2004 in Film

Right now, at a quarter-til-four in the morning, IFC is showing the film adaptation of Tommy, the classic Who album.

This film is so cheesy, it’s beyond description. Aside from butchering the original Who classic (with the full complicity of the band, evidenced by Roger Daltrey in the role of Tommy), the film just comes across as a bad 70’s acid trip. It’s a technicolor nightmare, with bad performances, pointless rock star cameos, and a senseless plot.

And believe it or not, Ann Margret was actually nominated for an Oscar for this film; probably for the scene where she rolls around in baked beans. (She did win the Golden Globe though.)

Doom Revisited

May 01, 2004 in Tech

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time playing Doom, the all-time greatest first-person shooter game. I’m a fairly casual gamer, and never really got into deathmatching and the more popular FPS’s such as Half-life, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and such.

Doom’s ultimate appeal lies in it’s bloody (and addictive) simplicity. Plus, it will run on just about any machine. The isometric 3D view of modern FPS’s is frustrating to a non-hardcore gamer such as myself, who fumbles with the mouse/keyboard combo skills required to play. In Doom, on the other hand, all of your aiming is done on the horizontal axis. I prefer a joystick to the mouse/keyboard combo that modern FPS’s require, and Doom allows you to map pretty much all of the features you need onto a eight-button gamepad.

Id open-sourced the code to the Doom engine in 1997, and since then, a number of source ports have been made to extend the features of Doom, giving it a more modern feel. For those of you who haven’t played Doom in a while, go pick up the shareware version (or dust off the copy on your hard drive). While you’re at it, download Doom Legacy and point it to the doom.wad file in the Doom installation directory.

If you have a good video card, you can now play Doom in OpenGL, and use higher resolutions. You also have access to a plethora of new features and configuration options, such as the ability to jump, look up and down, and play Doom like a modern 3D isometric FPS. Doom Legacy also allows you to easily connect to deathmatch game servers, and play against others.

With all the hubbub about the soon-to-be-released Doom 3, it’s as good a time as any to go back and play an enhanced version of the original.

Stephin Merritt on Cee-Lo

May 01, 2004 in Music

The new Magnetic Fields album, i, is coming out this Tuesday. sat down to talk with Stephin Merritt, and asked for his opinions on rap music.

‘I tried playing Merritt a track by the Southern rapper Cee-lo, called “One for the Road,” a dazzling display of verbal ingenuity and wit I thought he might enjoy. Before Cee-lo actually starts rapping, there’s a short introduction, in which, sounding very Southern and very black, he says, “Yeah, mm-mm-mm, yeah that sho’ feel good. Hello, I go by the name of simply Cee-lo Green, how d’ya do? Welcome. I thought I’d seize this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about myself, if you don’t mind. This is my vision, ya know what I’m sayin’? Check me out now.”

Unremarkable and tame, at least it seemed to me, but it was too much for Merritt, who stopped the song after a few seconds of this. “I think it’s shocking that we’re not allowed to play coon songs anymore, but people, both white and black, behave in more vicious caricatures of African-Americans than they had in the 19th century. It’s grotesque. Presumably it’s just a character, and that person doesn’t actually talk that way, but that accent, that vocal presentation, would not have been out of place in the Christy Minstrels.” Dramatic pause to prepare for the inevitable hyperbolic quip, “In fact, it would probably have been considered too tasteless for the Christy Minstrels.”‘

The War on Weight

May 01, 2004 in Current Events

An article in today’s eugenics movement in the 20’s.”

Kathleen LeBesco, associate professor of communication arts at Marymount Manhattan College, also asserts that at the root of the current slimness craze is an effort to stigmatize certain groups.

…Ms. LeBesco writes that African-American and Mexican-American women are particularly targeted as obese in contemporary culture. “All of the discourse about fatness is about pathologizing the individual.”‘