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October 10, 2004

Derrida is dead


He died Friday at a hospital in Paris of pancreatic cancer at 74.

The originator of deconstructionism, his argument that the meaning of a collection of words is not fixed and unchanging, most famously capsulized as "there is nothing outside the text," both inspired and infuriated a generation of intellectuals and students.

Deconstruction, like existentialism a generation before, has become fixed in the popular mindset and modern culture.


Derrida believed language is inadequate to provide a clear and unambiguous view of reality.

I believe language is adequate to provide a clear and unambiguous view of multiple co-existing realities.

October 10, 2004 at 09:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How about a brand-new Dell A940 Multifunction Printer/Scanner/Copier - for $49.99?


Well, if you'd been on the ball earlier today, you could've had one here.

Woot.com is the ultimate in web torture, for those who can't get enough what with spam, viruses, pop-ups, and the like.

This new website is an online retailer dishing out deals like a 40Gb iPod for $349, Cuisinart blenders for $29.99, and suchlike.

All their products are new, sold at steep discounts, and carry a flat $5 shipping fee.

So what's the catch?

Well, they only sell one product a day, and it often sells out, sometimes very quickly.

New items are posted at midnight Central time (that's 1 a.m. on the East coast, booboo).

Many addicts now sit poised at their computer keyboards, ready to log on at the stroke of midnight.


I'd bet today's printer sold at at 12:00:01, or soon thereafter.

All two of them.

What a joke.

This site is truly a fitting candidate for bookofjoe's legendary "Dead Company Walking" club.

Nomination accepted.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite jokes.

Q. What's the shortest known time interval in the world?

A. The time between when a light turns green and people behind you start honking in Rome.

I may have to change the punch line if this site makes it to the end of the year.

Highly doubtful.

October 10, 2004 at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Lost in Translation'


I finally watched this last night, on DVD here at home.

I liked it a lot, but then, I'm biased: having spent my junior year of college at International Christian University in Tokyo, I'm passionately biased in favor of all things Japanese.

So this movie, set as it is in Tokyo, albeit the present version, already had two stars before it ever entered my DVD player.

Interesting that the majority of the film takes place at/in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo; I recently read a piece by Tyler Brûlé in the New York Times in which he said this hotel is his choice for best place to stay in the world.

Anyhow, Bill Murray gets better with time, and the time shows on his face, a refreshing contrast from the visages of his surgerized colleagues in the acting business.

Scarlett Johansson: what is there to say beyond, she can command the entire screen with her Viking-daughter face effortlessly, and will be a star forever.

The soundtrack for the film, I notice, has already been issued, not a surprise to me.


I loved the music, though I recognized none of it by artist or composer.

I just loved the pace of the film, dawdling and meandering and very, very calm and soothing.

I'd recommend it for someone who's in a sleepy, lazy kind of mood and doesn't feel like dealing with people.

Just the ticket.

October 10, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Johnny Texaco - or why it's good to be small on the internet


Who knows how I happened on his Belgian site, which is written, for the most part, in Dutch.

I like what he's done with the Texaco logo, adapting it for his own use: quite stylish, what?

Good thing Texaco's lawyers haven't bumped into it: a "cease and desist" letter would disgorge itself from the corporate innards posthaste.

Nice slogan, too.

FunFact: Belgium is divided into four language areas by government fiat: Dutch up north, French in the South, German in the far East, and both French and Dutch in Brussels.

No, they don't speak Belgian. Nor Flemish.


I don't think there is such a language. Is there?

October 10, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Shower curtain 'blow-in'


Nobody likes the icky shower curtain liner blowing in against them while they shower.

It's called "blow-in," is that phenomenon, and it's caused by the vortex created by the shower spray.

The better the water pressure, the worse the blow-in.

Many avenues of attack against blow-in have arisen.

Ron Lieber wrote an excellent article for the September 30 Wall Street Journal about the long-standing problem and its many possible solutions.

It follows.

Attack of the Sticky Shower Curtain

Physicists, designers tackle delicate problem of blow-in, but does anything work?

The campaign is on to fend off the unwanted advances of your shower curtain.

Shower curtain "blow-in," the experience of having a damp, sticky polyester liner sweep in and envelop your bare legs, has long been one of the unacknowledged nuisances of bathing.

Now, an unlikely coalition of physicists, bathroom-products makers, and lodging providers are trying to attack the problem.

One weapon: a new curved shower rod that creates a bigger distance between the shower curtain and a vulnerable rinser.


Wyndham International Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.'s Westin chain, and Hilton Hotels Corp.'s Hampton Inn are all installing the curved shower rods in their bathrooms.

At the same time, a range of intuitive - though often flawed - solutions have appeared in stores and on the Web, from the more standard weighted magnets to curtains that attach to the wall.

Home-products superstore Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. now carries at least six different shower-curtain liners.

The priciest, the $19.99 "All in One Ultimate Shower Curtain Liner," introduced last year, features a two-sided fabric of polyester and vinyl that the packaging says "will not billow."

Then there's the "Shower Curtain Sealer" that a Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, company called StayDry Systems started selling two years ago.

The sealer attaches to the shower wall; a bather can tuck the shower curtain into it.

Scientific investigation of the sticky conundrum has been given new life by the curiosity of a determined physicist.

During one Christmas vacation a few years ago, David Schmidt, an assistant professor in the mechanical and industrial engineering department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, noticed that the curtain at his mother-in-law's house "just sucks in fabulously."

Since Dr. Schmidt's main area of research is fluid dynamics, he thought he'd take up the riddle of the billowing curtain during the break.

Other experts on fluids and physics had posited that the blow-in phenomenon might be related to either the Bernoulli effect, which helps explain why a plane's wings help lift the aircraft, or the "buoyancy theory," which relates to temperature and air pressure.

Dr. Schmidt tested the theories by using a software program to divide a typical shower area into 50,000 cells.

The result: a third idea - that the shower spray creates a vortex, a low-pressure region not unlike a cyclone, in the bath area. That, he says, is what pulls the curtain in.

It's an unfortunate paradox: The better the water pressure, the worse the blow-in.

Dr. Schmidt's theory drew unexpected renown.

But as far as he came toward understanding the physics, Dr. Schmidt hasn't actually come up with any solutions; indeed, he experiences a bit of blow-in at home.

Happily, Dr. Schmidt is not the only person working on the problem.

After spotting a curved shower-curtain rod in a magazine, Michael Smith, a Chicago-area sales and marketing director for Starwood Hotels, ripped out the page and sent it off to headquarters.

Westin eventually decided to use the curved rod in its new "Heavenly Bath" design, which is now in every U.S. Westin and is being rolled out overseas.

The centerpiece of the bathroom remodel was supposed to be a fancy double shower head.

The rod was merely designed to give people a bit more elbow room to enjoy the massaging spray.

But customer response also revealed the fact that the curtain had farther to blow in before it touched the bather. Guests loved taking showers unmolested by their curtains.

The lower-price Hampton Inn chain also added the curved rod as part of a bathroom overhaul.

One easy solution to the blow-in problem would have been to do away with curtains entirely.

But shower doors or separate stalls are expensive for hotels to install, and Hampton was looking to overhaul 129,000 guest rooms.

The Hampton Inn redo has already impressed frequent travelers.

"That shower curtain rod makes you want to go out and buy one," says David Newton, a Knoxville, Tenn., kitchen designer who leads training sessions for others in his field.


The curved rod is available online at stacksandstacks.com, thecurvedrod.net, and Westin's own Web site, westin.com. (Westin sold 1,600 curved rods last year.)

The price tag: $40 for a five-foot rod and $60 for a six-foot rod. Both will fit most tub areas without special installation.

For consumers looking to solve the problem, a variety of shower-curtain designs are available.

A recent shopping trip to Bed Bath & Beyond yielded a number of options.

At the low end was a "heavyweight" liner with magnets at the bottom.

In the middle was the curtain with suction cups along the sides and a weighted bottom.

The most expensive was a "super" weight curtain.

Weights or magnets on the bottom of the curtains seemed to make intuitive sense.

But a home test showed otherwise, since the curtains either overpowered them or billowed out around them.

The super weight came the closest to solving a bad blow-in problem in a test shower, though an anti-mildew treatment on it reeked.

There is a more drastic fix: Separate the bathtub from the shower and enclose the shower with glass, marble, or another solid surface.

Today's showers tend to be glass, rather than the old plastic, and their doors swing open rather than sliding on a track.

"These are not necessarily the shower doors from the 1970s," Mr. Newton says.

October 10, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

175,000 images of Mars


Right here.


Above, the Martian north polar ice cap in summer

"Malin Space Science Systems designs, develops, and operates instruments that fly on robotic spacecraft."


Above, a hidden crater.

October 10, 2004 at 06:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just NOT Married!


CKO is one of the smartest women I've ever met.

And what a great girlfriend.

Her problem is that she can't get her ADHD under control, so she goes from job to job answering the phone, and from man to man, without ever finding peace.

I mean, this girl was recruited by Microsoft while she was in college, and she couldn't even be bothered to fly out to Redmond - on their dime - to interview, 'cause she was busy with sorority stuff at the University of Georgia.

Did I mention that she's a dead ringer for Jenny McCarthy?

Well, she heard her biological clock ticking a couple years ago, so she decided to marry the next plausible guy who came along.

Big crash and burn, with him taking all her assets while she worked and he sat home, drank beer, and watched TV.

Me, I sit home, drink water, and blog.


Maybe I best move on quickly with the story, huh?

Anyway, marriage #2 was all lined up, invitations, guests, engagement ring big and bling-y.

She realized it was an instant replay of marriage #1 in the making, so she called it off.

But, since everyone was already in town... she had a "Just NOT Married" party.

Alas, of the many great pictures she sent me of the bash, the only one suitable for bookofjoe Version 2.0 is the one above.

October 10, 2004 at 03:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Egg Chair - don't waste your $199.95


Oh, yeah?

Who am I to spout off about chairs?

Well, I am a chair fanatic, and I try to try every supposedly great new chair.

I haven't tried this one, but I don't think I could get near it without tossing my cookies, it's so ugly.


Still the winner for form + function + price?

The one and only...

Ball Chair.


$21.95 here.

If you're 5'3"-6' tall, get the blue 65 cm one.


Then you'll be sittin' pretty, just like moi.

I've been using mine for over 10 years and my back never hurts.

Of course, I have deer whistles on my car, and I've never hit a deer, so I know the whistles work too.

You see how it is with me.

[via redferret.net]

October 10, 2004 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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