Saturday, April 04, 2009

Vending machines galore

Vending machines galore.

Subscribing etc

I am confused by the "follow" option on blogger. What does it do?

In a space station

Breasty Pirate Enrages Local Priest

Breasty Pirate Enrages Local Priest, article.
'I curse you. I curse this place. I want to see this destroyed. I want her destroyed.'
If he really spoke like that, he is rather out of touch with the world.
(By the way, I don't think there's such a word as "breasty". It must be one of those words newspapers make up for their headlines.)

(Update: actually the title refers to the article which lead me there.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Drei Variatione Der Sonne


(Thanks to Walter.)

Today's sunset.

(Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300mm VR.)

René Maltête

René Maltête photography. This guy was fabulous, I can't believe I never heard of him.


It seems that the story now in some quarters of the conservative West, like Fox News, is that the reasons many Europeans dislike Dubya is that he's a Christian! And that "Europe is no longer a Christian continent, it's a pagan continent, and they hate Christians".
My comments to that:

  • Europe has not been all that Christian for a long time now. It's a great mix of many beliefs.
  • It's not a choice between "Christian" and "pagan". That's a false choice, like the one between, um, "intelligent design" and "divine creation" or however that nonsense goes.
  • I don't know a single European who "hates Christians". What they don't like are fundamentalists from any religion, especially when the fundamentalism is used to wage war.
  • I personally have strong doubts that Bush is really a Christian. I can't see that bubble-head being sincere about any devotion. I think that if the USA were, say, mostly a hindu country, a person like him would don the dress and lingo of hinduism to further his political career.

Pascal offered:

Here are the descriptions for three authentic candidates to their country's leadership:

- First one is associated with seedy politicians and consults astrologists. He's had two mistresses, smokes like a factory and downs 8 to 10 martinis a day.

- Second candidate has already gotten fired from two jobs. He sleeps until noon. In college, he used to smoke opium, and he downs a quarter liter of whisky every evening.

- Third candidate is a medal-awarded war hero. He's a vegetarian, supports legislation against animal cruelty and experimentation, firmly believes in family values, and is also an amateur artist. He barely drinks the occasional beer, and never had any extra-marital affair.

Now, which whould you vote for, based on that CV?

Take your time, think about it.

Now I'll tell you the names of these three persons.

Each once got elected as leader of a major country.

#1 : Franklin D. Roosevelt.

#2 : Winston Churchill.

#3 : Adolf Hitler.

Gabriel & Dresden "Tracking Treasure Down"

The Politics Of Sex

The Politics Of Sex, David Steinberg article.
"...there's a clear and dramatic difference between people whose basic reflex is to embrace sex, and people whose basic attitude about sex is one of worry and concern -- and this difference in sexual perspective is what the most virulent political battles of these times are all about"

I think there's a lot of truth to that, and I suspect this is symptomatic of a deep difference, related to where a person stands with mental energy, how he/she handles emotion. Namely, does he tend to want it flowing, or does he tend to want to keep it stuck? Making and keeping it flowing is the healthier option in the long run, but it can be a painful and frightening experience if one is quite stuck. Heck, it can be so even at the best of times, and at the worst it can be virtually impossible, or only very, very slowly and gently.

I asked David what "four-legs-good" means, and he explained:
"this is a reference to George Orwell's novel, Animal Farm, where the pig class, to solidify their control of the animals that have overthrown their human oppressors, teach everyone to think very simple-mindedly that anything with four legs is good and anything with two legs is bad."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D

Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D, wiki article. The movie and the 3D is getting very good reviews. I hope it will work well also on a home screen, because I rarely have the patience these days for movie theatres.

Taxi and jeans

I'm just watching season 1 of Taxi. Generally I prefer TV shows from the nineties and forward, but Taxi is one of the good ones from the late seventies. Andy Kaufman was funny, and Marilu Henner was hot. And still is, she had a guest part on the outstanding Greg The Bunny.

Watching this reminds me of one of the few things that I miss from the seventies: tight jeans on pretty girls. That was heaven. How can such an excellent, simple, and sexy fashion just go away?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Rollei Compactline 90

Serious photographers of some age will know the venerable German brand Rollei, a classic high quality camera for pros and discerning amateurs. Recently we were told the brand had dies along with the company, but it seems not. See the newest Rollei at the bottom. In more than one sense...
A red Rollei with "smile detection". Sigh. What's next, a Hasselblad with every Happy Meal?

Hahn on Bach

I'm a metrosexual

I've kept this quiet for a long time, but what with Lindsay Lohan coming out as a bisexual and similar courageous developments recently, I feel it's time for me to step up.

I'm a metrosexual.

I don't mean a straight man who dresses well and likes clubs, I mean in the original sense: somebody who gets turned on by cities.

Since this came into full bloom about fifteen years ago, I've been unable to live in a city, and only able to visit them briefly. I can't be centrally in a city without getting raging iron, which is very uncomfortable after a while, and which my doctor says can be dangerous for a middle-aged man. The last time I rode a subway, I climaxed three times just from the vibration.

I've long ago gotten rid of all my porn, and I get off now by watching films like Manhattan, Blade Runner, New York Stories, and Eight Million Ways To Die.

Well, that's the long and the short of it. Hope you won't judge me too hard. April fool.

The property market now

This article by Neil Jenman is partly about the aussie/kiwi property market, but it contains several general principles which will be interesting to people who are looking at the property market. Neil Jenman was the first writer I found a few years ago who predicted the current crash in that market.
"He showed graphs of the stock market over a series of years. When the graph was high, people were buying. When the graph was low, people were not buying.
Of course, most people were doing the opposite to what they should have been doing, namely, buying in the gloom.
Now, to be sure, there's a lot of gloom in the property market right now. And that's why it seems like a good time to be investing.
But investing in property is more than just about buying in gloomy times, it's also about buying when the numbers are right."

Advertising and phoniness

Apropos phoney, Don pointed to this video. An advertising executive explains how advertising people can do something that others can't do, make the public feel something for the product. I think this points to why I've always felt so uneasy about advertising: it's phoney by definition.

It's not made by people who love the product, it's made by people who are paid to make others love a product they probably don't even care about themselves.

And what's more, if they can make the public love the product for reasons which have nothing whatsoever to do with the product itself, that's not considered a downside or any kind of a lie. If I've been drinking Cola my whole life because as a youngster I fell in love with a girl in a Cola commercial, that will be considered a legitimate victory by advertising people and their customers, not a swindle.

I think the ultimate in this kind of 'think' is that if such people could make people love and continue to buy an empty box and somehow never notice that it's empty, they would consider that the ultimate business. Honesty and delivering a valuable product simply has no consideration in their world, only how much money they make.

The trailer voice

You know that voice which they always use for trailers for dramatic movies and thrillers? I'm not sure it's always the same man, but it always sound the same: deep, booming, thrilling, important, and very, very, very, dramatic.
I am soooo sick of that voice. It just seems so phoney to me now, and I can't watch more than five seconds of a trailer which uses it.
Am I the only one?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

LIFE and celebrities is launched and will feature a huge number of photos.
One of the collections so far is Hollywood redheads. What's not to like. Below Ann-Margret and Christina Hendricks. Maybe I oughter watch Mad Men.

And here is Megan Fox (Transformers). Isn't it amazing how fast the "glamour" kind of beauty becomes hollow and boring? It's funny, I even get a physical reaction to it, kind of an empty feeling it my chest, I think it comes from being attracted to something which I simultaneously consider to be a dead end. I also get the feeling if I try to read one of those magazines which are all about super-hits and super-celebrities. The kind of magazine where the criterion is what is hot and big right now, not what is good or interesting. (Not that the two always are mutually exclusive, mind.)

Some celebrities transcend their station. Jack Nicholson does, Richard Gere does not. Natalie Portman does, Megan Fox does not.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wings of Desire

I've just watched Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders (1987). It's excellent. It's a very "European" movie, meaning it's philosophical and thoughtful, and you shouldn't watch it if you're in the mood for a movie with guns and car chases, trust me.

One of the central questions of the movie is, if you could be like an angel and be outside of everything, would you do that, or would you rather be inside, where it can be painful, but things are real and affect you for better and worse?

One of the good things about it is Solveig Dommartin, who sadly died in 2007 by heart attack. She was a find for Wenders, and I don't get why she's been in so few movies. She spoke three languages fluently, she was gorgeous and fit, she was an excellent actress, and she was an accomplished trapeze artist, which she learned in eight weeks just for that movie!

Johnnie Walker says in a comment that he feels I implied European moview are superior. "You implied it. What's the harm in admitting that? You said "it's a very European movie, meaning it's philosophical and thoughtful." You often deal in generalities, mainly because of your laziness."

I don't think I implied European movies are better. I might as well have said of Speed: "it's a very 'American' movie, it has lots of action and excitement". That to me does not imply superiority or inferiority, merely a difference.
Did it seem to others that I implied that?

The reason I said it was to give an impression of what the movie is like overall, so people who hate slow, philosophical movies can avoid it. Because it really is slow, and one has to be in the mood for that to enjoy it. (In fact sometimes it was almost too slow for me.)

Just because some people consider European movies to be superior does not mean I do. In fact I watch many more American movies, and usually enjoy them a lot.

I don't write full, fleshed-out reviews, and I know some people like that. If one wants it, one can find lots of those easily on Amazon and rotten tomatoes.

A few more photos

Closed for renovation

I sometimes arrive on a web site, just to see a sign like: "Our site is currently being updated. Please check back soon."

Why do people do that? It's not like a store, where workmen might drop a hammer on a customer, so you have to close the store. Don't people realize that they are wasting traffic?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Authors@Google: Marci Alboher & Tim Ferriss

More than once, I've addressed the idea that some people should not settle down for wanting to do only one thing in life. This variation seems to be a bit in the way of multiple careers rather than just activities, but still.

Sunday morning, playground photos

Today was a gorgeous morning. Quite cold, barely over the frost level (there was still frost on the cars several hours after sunup), but almost dead calm, and strong sunshine from a cloudless sky.

So I went out, and brought my pocket camera (Canon Ixus 960). It turns the morning light was beautiful on a local playground which has been upgraded recently.

The pictures, especially the large versions on, also show the amazing quality of modern compact digicams. The contrast was great, but that was no problem. And if one likes deep sharpness (depth-of-field) then they have it. At the wide end of the zoom (35mm equivalent) the pictures are pin-sharp from front to back even at full lens opening (2.8). And they have not been processed at all, no sharpening, no contrast adjustment, no cropping, nothing.
It's also a good example of the pleasure of a good bring-everywhere camera. I really didn't think I was going to photograph today, but this one is so small I barely notice it, so I brought it, and seeing this light I'd have kicked myself if I hadn't.

See full gallery here.

With a thought back to the recent post about simplicity, Canon (like many others) could learn a thing or two. I'm trying to figure out whether there has been a worthwhile upgrade to this camera, and it's just impossible! There are so many models with such similar names and features. And to add insult to injury, the same models are called slightly different things on either side of the pond. There's even a "990" model in the US now which is not the same as the "990" in Europe last year. Or was it vice versa? It's just headache-inducing.
Nice aerial photos.

Closely conjoined twins

Wow, this is incredible, I actually didn't think it was possible, but it seems it's real.
The girls have two heads and two spines, but everything else is shared. They each control and feel one side of the body.
They are nineteen now.
They intend to have normal romantic lives, but how the heck do you handle that? What if one falls in love with a guy the other one can't stand?
They both really dislike being stared at, but if anything is a challenge to that, this may be it, how do you manage to not stare, it so extremely extraordinary.

I've just realized what's so remarkable: they defy the definition of "individual"... you can't divide them without killing them, and yet they are two people!

More videos.

Shoe shine girl

Hidden-camera thingy. It's what I say, it's just impossible not to stare at a good pair of knockers.