"If you understood everything I said, you'd be me" - Miles Davis
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." - Lenny Bruce
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

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I Still Have Nightmares About That Balloon
Portmeirion is an Italianate resort village in Wales that provided unique locations for the classic Prisoner TV show. Of course someone is a Lego replica of Portmeirion

Extra Credit: Compare and contrast "Rover" from The Prisoner and the black smoke monster from Lost

Wil Wright/Brian Eno discussion mp3
Via Disquiet.com

update: fixed link

Another Book I Have To Buy
UFog's good buddy The BigMoboDaddy has kindly informed us that the ever marvelous Tim Powers has a new book: Three Days to Never. Hot Diggity!

update: Link fixed.

Where the Wee Folk Live
Even though I drive by it every day, I had no idea there was a Seattle neighborhood called "Tangletown"-it sounds like someplace out of a Neil Gaiman novel.

Lost - Season 3 Spoilers
Lost Season 3 Spoilers from Comicon: A long list.

Out, Damn Spam
Utility Fog Blog got slammed with over 250 comment spams yesterday. Adding a few words and an internet address to my homebrew blacklist seems to have stemmed the tide.

Teleportation is Fun
Demo of Portal game.(YouTube Video) Wild Half-Life-2-style physics insanity using wormholes you make in walls.

Brilliant, Just Brilliant
"The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran's efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah."
U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis
Here's my two-cents worth: Condi's plan to have the Lebanese Army (backed by an international force) remove Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon is a non-starter. What country is dumb enough to send it's troops? Israel spent 8 years trying to root out Hezbollah the last time they occupied Lebanon. We have no leverage with Syria or Iran because both countries are already on our shit-list. Before they do anything to reign in Hezbollah they'll want something in return- something that we don't want to give. We don't even want to talk to them. I don't know how this is going to end, but I don't see it ending well.

Say Hello To The NSA
with 'this phone is tapped' sticker
This Phone Is Tapped

The Sublime Nutty Genius of American Literature
"Harry Stephen Keeler (1890-1967) is one of the strangest writers who ever lived. In his time, he was pegged as a mystery novelist who also wrote some science fiction. Today, if you've heard of him at all, it's as the Ed Wood of mystery novelists, a writer reputed to be so bad he's good. Actually, no genre, nor "camp," can much suggest what Keeler is all about. Take some typical Keeler situations:
  • A man is found strangled to death in the middle of a lawn, yet there are no footprints other than his own. Police suspect the "Flying Strangler-Baby," a killer midget who disguises himself as a baby and stalks victims by helicopter. (X. Jones of Scotland Yard, 1936)
  • Someone killed an antique dealer just so he could steal the face -- only the face -- from a surrealist painting of "The Man from Saturn." (The Face of the Man from Saturn, 1933)
  • A woman's body disappears while taking a steam bath. Only her head and toes, sticking out of the steam cabinet, remain. (The Case of the Transparent Nude, 1958)
  • Because of a clause in a will, a character has to wear a pair of hideous blue glasses constantly for a whole year. This is so that he will eventually see a secret message that is visible only with the glasses. (The Spectacles of Mr. Cagliostro, 1929)
  • A poem leads the protagonist to a cemetery specializing in circus freaks and the grave of "Legga, the Human Spider," a woman with four legs and six arms. Legga was born in Canton, China, and died in Canton, Ohio. (The Riddle of the Traveling Skull, 1934)
  • A disgruntled phone company employee calls every man in Minneapolis, telling him the morning papers will name him as the secret husband of convicted murderess Jemimah Cobb, who runs a whorehouse specializing in women with physical abnormalities. (The Man With the Magic Eardrums, 1939)
  • Every resident of "Idiot's Valley" is mentally retarded and packs a gun. (Several novels; Idiot's Valley is Keeler's Yoknapatawpha County.)"
An example of Keeler's "all plot, no filler, totally weird" style (synopsis, not sample):
"Steenburg arrives and tells his story. He is the son of Rabbi David Steenburg, who happens to be an expert on the evils of racetrack betting and is scheduled to appear at the same Congressional hearing that King is being subpoenaed to attend. In one of the many subplots that is never resolved, Steenburg is representing Soo Ching, a Chinese laundry owner who is suing the Buffalo Trust and Savings Bank, claiming he is legal owner of the land on which their new skyscraper is constructed. According to Soo Ching, his grandfather, Soo Long, was given the land by Christopher Schurz, a grateful customer disgusted with the sawtooth edges other laundries left on his shirts' detachable cuffs. The customer gave Soo Long a deed, which was discovered hidden in the wrapping of an ironing board 55 years later by Soo Ching. The deed was made out to "S. Long." By coincidence, however, Christopher Schurz also had a nephew by the name of Samuel Long and, on his deathbed, forgot the previous deed in his delirium and made out another deed in the name of his nephew, who he also carelessly referred to as "S. Long."

Steenburg needs the skull because, unknown to King, it is the only shred of physical evidence of the gangland-style murder of "Blinky," a one-eyed gigolo. Steenburg has a client, "Big Shoes," who was unwittingly involved in the murder of Blinky. Another gangster, Cokey, a drug addict, knows of Big Shoes' involvement. It is feared that the New York City police will soon arrest Cokey. When they do, Steenburg says, they will bribe Cokey with shots of morphine and, in the agonies of withdrawal, he will tell them about the murder of Blinky.

The principle of corpus delicti identifactus operating in Wisconsin and Minnesota requires that the identity of a dead body or remains be established before a charge of murder can be brought. The skull can be identified as that of Blinky because Blinky suffered from an unusual facial neuritis and a set of X-rays of his head are on file at a medical institute."
Harry Stephen Keeler Homepage
Harry Stephen Keeler @ Wikipedia
The Harry Stephen Keeler Society

via The Presurfer

pulp magazine covers featuring octopusi
Vintage Octopus Pulp Covers aka Proto-tentacle-porn
Via Incoming Signals

Craig's Rants
If you're like me, and you find profane, snarky, funny rants posted by ordinary people amusing, then by all means head on over to best-of-craigslist.
"5. Yes, you can unplug a fridge without any harm to the fridge. Believe me, the fridge is fine. The manufacturers have figured out a way to extend the life of a fridge that has been unplugged. Yes, I'm absolutely sure of that. No, you did not have to leave 2 messages about your concerns with the fridge being unplugged, and frankly it was a little embarrassing having the same conversation with you in my driveway where my neighbors could hear.

6. No, I don't have the operating instructions. I can write them down for you though: Plug fridge in. Open door. Put crap inside. Take crap out when it's cold. Eat or drink crap.

7. I am not a fridge pimp. I don't have any more fridges at that price. No, I don't know where you can get another fridge at that price. Yes, I know it's in great condition for the price, and I'm sure you'd like your other crazy-as-bat-shit-mini-fridge-buying-friends to have one just like it, but this is all I have. Here's a thought, there's this online classified ads website. Yeah, you may have heard of it, it's called CRAIGSLIST. I dunno, maybe, just maybe, in this great land of ours, there's another mini-fridge being advertised there."
Dear Crazy-As-Bat-Shit-Lady: The fridge doesn't come with a pedigree!

Release The Lawyers
"A judge gave state Democrats the go-ahead Thursday to question high-ranking Republicans in a civil suit over the jamming of Democrats' phones on Election Day 2002.

Three former GOP officials have already been sentenced in the phone jamming scheme. In the civil suit, state Democrats want to know who knew about the plan.

They point to a record of phone calls that show national GOP official James Tobin, one of those convicted, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down"
Democrats seek answers in phone jamming
Via The Sideshow

I Had No Idea
Ceuta and Melilla are Spanish cities on the coast of Morocco. They are the last European possessions in mainland Africa.

Pretty Dot Tree
Why did I install the Java Runtime Environment plugin for Firefox?
So I could get a neat graphical representation of the Utility Fog Blog:

web page    graphic representation
"What do the colors mean?
blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags"
Websites as Graphs

FireFox Fun
I installed the Java Runtime Environment plugin successfully- Yea me-I'm such a small-time hacker stud. Now if I could only figure out why Firefox bounces between having one and two rows of bookmark toolbars. Oh well, it's not like it's a life threatening problem.

Red Stuff
Ketchup World

Don't Try This At Home (or work)
"A lot of things go through one's mind when chopping up a pound of bacon at 10pm on a Saturday night. The first being "I really need a girlfriend," the other is the realization of how much work it is to make your own bacon bits. Luckily we live in a modern world where bacon is readily available in bit form. "
Bacon Cereal
Via J-Walk Blog

Secret Metrics
"The Pentagon has stopped releasing its assessment of the number of Iraqi army units deemed capable of battling insurgents without U.S. military help.

U.S. officials had been releasing a tally every three months of Iraqi military units that were sufficiently trained to operate by themselves, without the aid of U.S. firepower, logistics or transportation.

The decision to stop making the information public came after reports showed a steady decline in the number of qualified Iraqi units. That number now is classified, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Victor Renuart, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
U.S. mum on strength of Iraqi troop

Halloween Haunted House Made Entirely of Balloons
Via Extreme Craft

walking balloon anenome
Jason Hackenwerth's Megamite.

David Lynch Ringtones. I want one of the Eraserhead baby.
More Info

How to subscribe to a YouTube user's RSS feed with Bloglines:

YouTube says a user's feed follows the form:
Unfortunately, Bloglines finds no valid feed at this address.

But the template
works just fine.

Lost / Official V. Fraud Sites
The Lost Blog has a big list of official Lost Experience sites and faux fan-sites.
Official vs. Fraud or Fan Sites Primer for The Lost Experience

Strong On Defense
"Ignoring FISA's rules concerning warrants is illegal. It also weakens national security, since the process of obtaining the warrants has an effect on quality control. To date, FBI agents have been sent out to do thousands of investigations based on this warrantless wiretapping. None of those investigations turned up a legitimate lead. I have spoken to about a dozen agents, and they all roll their eyes and indicate disgust with the man-years of wasted effort being put into physically examining NSA "leads."

This scattershot attempt at data mining drags FBI agents away from real investigations, while destroying the NSA's credibility in the eyes of law enforcement and the public in general. That loss of credibility makes the NSA the agency that cried wolf -- and after so many false leads, should they provide something useful, the data will be looked at skeptically and perhaps given lower priority by law enforcement than it would otherwise have been given.

Worse, FBI agents working real and pressing investigations such as organized crime, child pornography and missing persons are being pulled away from their normal law enforcement duties to follow up on NSA leads. Nobody wants another 9/11, of course, but we experience real crimes on a daily basis that, over the course of even one year, cause far greater loss of life and damage than the 9/11 attacks did. There are children abused on a daily basis to facilitate online child pornography, yet I know of at least two agents who were pulled from their duties tracking down child abusers to investigate everyone who called the same pizza parlor as a person who received a call from a person who received an overseas call. There are plenty of similar examples.

We have snakes in our midst, yet we are chasing a mythical beast with completely unreliable evidence."
Why NSA spying puts the U.S. in danger
Via tecznotes links

Martians Beware
steam powered walking robot
Steam-powered Robots
Via things magazine

Not In Kansas Anymore
The Guardian has an overview of some of the ideas in Vernor Vinge's excellent new novel, Rainbows End.
"The scenario he describes is the background he researched for Rainbows End. Set in 2025, the characters are surrounded by logical extensions of today's developing technology. Wearable computing is commonplace. Tagging and ubiquitous networked sensors mean you can look at the landscape with your choice of overlay and detail. People send each other silent messages and Google for information within conversations with participants who may be physically present or might be remote projections. One character's projection is hijacked and becomes the front for three people. The owner of another remote intelligence is unknown. Several continents' top intelligence operatives try to solve a smart biological attack that infects a test population with the willingness to obey orders."
Big Brother takes a controlling interest in chips
Via Boing Boing

Lost / Theories-a-go-go
"In 1979 the illuminati acquired the island for scientific purposes. It was to be used as a test site for cutting edge developments in accelerated learning and zoology.

The illuminati's plan was to work out a way to communicate with supernatural entities.

Flight 815 crashed as it became caught in a temporal vortex generated by Dharma time travel experiments. The survivors of flight 815 have all been brainwashed by the Hanso Foundation and the 'monster' in the jungle is the ghost of Charlie's father.

The Others are a group of brainwashed cult members.

The 'incident' mentioned in the orientation film was a huge explosion which killed most of those on the island and when the button is not pressed it will simply signify the end of the experiment.

The numbers give the location of a star system with which Dharma scientists are currently in contact."
Lost Theory Generator
Via Alt.Tv.Lost

Nothing to see here, officer.