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December 2, 2005

Superhero U.S. Postage Stamps: Coming next summer

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Wrote Ben Sisario in today's

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New York Times "Arts Briefly" column,

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"The series of 20 stamps... will salute 10 costumed heroes.

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Half the stamps will feature portraits of the characters....

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The other 10 are to showcase classic and modern comic book covers."

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The chosen heroes included Superman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Plastic Man, Aquaman, Hawkman and Supergirl.

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The featured comic book covers:

1) Superman - Superman #11, 1941
2) Green Arrow - Green Arrow (Vol. 2) #15, 2001
3) Green Lantern - Green Lantern #4, 1961
4) Wonder Woman - Wonder Woman (second series) #22, 1987
5) Batman - Batman #1, 1940 (with Robin)
6) The Flash - Flash #111, 1960
7) Plastic Man - Plastic Man #4, 1943 (with Woozy Winks)
8) Aquaman - Aquaman (third series) #5, 1989
9) Hawkman - The Brave and The Bold #36, 1961
10) Supergirl - Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1, 1982

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Here's a link to this past Tuesday's announcement

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by the U.S. Postal Service detailing all the

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commemorative issues upcoming in 2006.

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More details here.

December 2, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Portable Washing Machine — 'Wash clothes anytime, anywhere'

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Why waste time and money at the laundromat when you can do your wash for free at Barnes & Noble?

Just take your Wonder Washer™ filled with your dirty clothes to the ladies' room for some water, pour in a package of Tide and plug it in under the bar in the coffee shop while you do your computer–related work.

In 15 minutes you've got clean clothes and you're outa there.

The website says "use in small apartments or the RV" but I say why limit yourself?

Get a power adapter for your car's cigarette lighter and wash while your drive.

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"Attached carry handle for easy toting."

Weighs 8 lbs. (When empty, booboo.)

"High" and "Low" settings.

18.5"H x 12.5"W.

Holds 7 liters.

$49.99 here. (Clothes and water not included.)

December 2, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Extreme Chamber Music — 'Giacinto Scelsi discovered the world in one note'

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You don't have to like chamber music to enjoy reading about it, just like you may never eat street food in Bangkok but can find reading stories about it in the New York Times Dining section mouth–wateringly irresistible.

Wait a minute — that's a really, really dumb, poor analogy.

Who wrote that?

Get outa here.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah — chamber music.

Alex Ross, the excellent music critic for the New Yorker magazine, wrote an interesting piece for the November 21 issue about Giacinto Scelsi (above), a self–taught Italian composer who, toward the end of the 1950s, "had the extraordinary idea of writing an entire work — the 'Four Pieces' for chamber orchestra — that consisted of only single tones, one for each movement."

Ross continued, "... This obscure Roman eccentric, who considered himself a 'messenger' or 'medium,' has become a cult figure among younger composers: he makes the eternal new."

Though I tried mightily and even had my crack research team spend about 40 hours working on it we were simply unable to access Ross's New Yorker article online.

True, I could've have the team simply type the article into bookofjoe but they have far better things to do — like looking for split ends, you know, the usual girl stuff.

So we'll just have to go without.

Ross did put addenda to his column online in his blog in a post entitled "Scelsi morning after."

That post has many useful, informative links.

Ross's blog is a music lover's delight, what with all sorts of great links and posts available.

It's funny, though: Every other New Yorker column Ross has writen this year is available on his blog on this page, all the way up through the October 24 piece.

Perhaps he and the magazine have an agreement whereby he's not allowed to put up his work until a month after the issue's come out.

That seems odd, though; most of the time I'm able to find any New Yorker article on the web.

In any event, I would bet that, if you're all that interested, checking back with Ross's website in a month or so will produce a working link to his November 21 piece on Scelsi, the first line of which was, "In the beginning was the Tone."

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From that article:

    He fell in love with Eastern philosophy and made trips to India and Nepal.

    After the Second World War, he suffered a breakdown and stopped composing for a few years.

    He spent day after day playing a single note on the piano.

    The casual observer might have thought he had gone mad.

    He was, in fact, was regaining his balance.

December 2, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hygge–lys: Paraffin candle with built-in matchbox

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So elegantly cool.

By British product designer Jeremy Walton, who now lives and works in Denmark.

From the website:

    Walton was inspired to create these candles shortly after coming to Denmark.

    In Scandinavia, cosiness – locally known as hygge – is often associated with the use of candles.

    Walton quickly perceived the need for a special candle that kept the matches within easy reach.

    So he cast a little matchbox in the bottom of each candle.

The candle burns for 40 hours.

[via AW]

December 2, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wikipedia: The dark side

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Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry for one John Seigenthaler.

Here is a link to yesterday's USA Today article by the very same John Siegenthaler in which he chillingly documents how easily someone — still and probably forever unknown and anonymous and thus beyond the reach of any legal action — was able to commit character assassination upon him in Wikipedia that spread far and wide.

You thought identity theft was bad?

Wait till someone gives you a new one.

Here's the Op–Ed page article.

    A False Wikipedia 'Biography'

    This is a story of how vandals, hiding behind federal privacy laws, can use the highly popular, free online encyclopedia to attack fellow citizens

    "John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960's. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven."

    — Wikipedia


    This is a highly personal story about Internet character assassination.

    It could be your story.

    I have no idea whose sick mind conceived the false, malicious "biography" [above, in italics] that appeared under my name for 132 days on Wikipedia, the popular, online, free encyclopedia whose authors are unknown and virtually untraceable.

    There was more:

    "John Seigenthaler moved to the Soviet Union in 1971, and returned to the United States in 1984," Wikipedia said.

    "He started one of the country's largest public relations firms shortly thereafter."

    At age 78, I thought I was beyond surprise or hurt at anything negative said about me.

    I was wrong.

    One sentence in the biography was true.

    I was Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s.

    I also was his pallbearer.

    It was mind-boggling when my son, John Seigenthaler, journalist with NBC News, phoned later to say he found the same scurrilous text on Reference.com and Answers.com.

    I had heard for weeks from teachers, journalists and historians about "the wonderful world of Wikipedia," where millions of people worldwide visit daily for quick reference "facts," composed and posted by people with no special expertise or knowledge — and sometimes by people with malice.

    At my request, executives of the three websites now have removed the false content about me.

    But they don't know, and can't find out, who wrote the toxic sentences.

    I phoned Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder and asked, "Do you… have any way to know who wrote that?"

    "No, we don't," he said.

    Representatives of the other two websites said their computers are programmed to copy data verbatim from Wikipedia, never checking whether it is false or factual.

    Naturally, I want to unmask my "biographer."

    And, I am interested in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool.

    But searching cyberspace for the identity of people who post spurious information can be frustrating.

    I found on Wikipedia the registered IP (Internet Protocol) number of my "biographer" — 65-81-97-208.

    I traced it to a customer of BellSouth Internet.

    That company advertises a phone number to report "Abuse Issues."

    An electronic voice said all complaints must be e-mailed.

    My two e-mails were answered by identical form letters, advising me that the company would conduct an investigation but might not tell me the results.

    It was signed "Abuse Team."

    Wales, Wikipedia's founder, told me that BellSouth would not be helpful.

    "We have trouble with people posting abusive things over and over and over," he said.

    "We block their IP numbers, and they sneak in another way. So we contact the service providers, and they are not very responsive."

    After three weeks, hearing nothing further about the Abuse Team investigation, I phoned BellSouth's Atlanta corporate headquarters, which led to conversations between my lawyer and BellSouth's counsel.

    My only remote chance of getting the name, I learned, was to file a "John or Jane Doe" lawsuit against my "biographer."

    Major communications Internet companies are bound by federal privacy laws that protect the identity of their customers, even those who defame online.

    Only if a lawsuit resulted in a court subpoena would BellSouth give up the name.

    Federal law also protects online corporations — BellSouth, AOL, MCI Wikipedia, etc. — from libel lawsuits.

    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, specifically states that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker."

    That legalese means that, unlike print and broadcast companies, online service providers cannot be sued for disseminating defamatory attacks on citizens posted by others.

    Recent low-profile court decisions document that Congress effectively has barred defamation in cyberspace.

    Wikipedia's website acknowledges that it is not responsible for inaccurate information, but Wales, in a recent C-Span interview with Brian Lamb, insisted that his website is accountable and that his community of thousands of volunteer editors (he said he has only one paid employee) corrects mistakes within minutes.

    My experience refutes that.

    My "biography" was posted May 26.

    On May 29, one of Wales' volunteers "edited" it only by correcting the misspelling of the word "early."

    For four months, Wikipedia depicted me as a suspected assassin before Wales erased it from his website's history Oct. 5.

    The falsehoods remained on Answers.com and Reference.com for three more weeks.

    In the C-Span interview, Wales said Wikipedia has "millions" of daily global visitors and is one of the world's busiest websites.

    His volunteer community runs the Wikipedia operation, he said.

    He funds his website through a non-profit foundation and estimated a 2006 budget of "about a million dollars."

    And so we live in a universe of new media with phenomenal opportunities for worldwide communications and research — but populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects.

    Congress has enabled them and protects them.

    When I was a child, my mother lectured me on the evils of "gossip."

    She held a feather pillow and said, "If I tear this open, the feathers will fly to the four winds, and I could never get them back in the pillow. That's how it is when you spread mean things about people."

    For me, that pillow is a metaphor for Wikipedia.

********************

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John Seigenthaler, a retired journalist, founded The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. He also is a former editorial page editor at USA TODAY.

December 2, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Moo Mixer Glass

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Help me out here.

I've been staring at this item both in the paper catalog and online for days now and I still can't figure out if the glass must remain on the base or if you can remove it and drink from it like an ordinary glass after you've whipped up your frothy favorite.

Maybe you can tell me.

From the website:

    Drinking milk or juice is more fun when your tumbler moos.

    Mix up to 8 ounces of liquid without spilling.

    Simply push the button on the handle and the motor does the work.

    The polycarbonate tumbler is dishwasher safe.

    Base may be rinsed clean.

Requires 2 AA batteries (not included).

$12.95 here.

Well?

I'll be honest with you: as time goes on it's becoming increasingly apparent to me that I do not have the skill set required for successful blogging.

I'm looking into retraining.

As what, I'm not yet sure — but you'll be the second to know.

December 2, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Google Holiday Logo Museum

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It's right here.

All the company's cool one–off logos are shown, by year, since it was in beta, long, long ago in a century far, far away, back in 1999.

Tell you what: when I see on websites that it's forbidden to reproduce stuff I just laugh — except for one site.

That's Google, whose note "Please do not use them elsewhere" in reference to its old logos is taken very seriously here.

You do not tug on Superman's cape....

While you're noodling around, have a look at this page of logos created by Google's fans — some of them are fantabulous.

[via Nell Boeschenstein and C-Ville]

December 2, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stealth Paper Towel Dispenser

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Sure, it looks like an ordinary shelf mounted on your wall — but oh, there's so much more to this innocuous–looking piece of kit.

Because hidden below and known only to you is a secret slot that dispenses... disposable paper hand towels.

Never again be without when you're in a room with a "Healthy Shelf."

From the website:

    Reduce the spread of illness from sharing contaminated cloth towels

    This decorative shelf dispenses disposable hand towels.

    The shelf can be painted to match your room.

    It's important to you to keep your family safe and healthy, so why would you allow your loved ones to be exposed constantly to a common source of germs and bacteria?

    Healthy Shelf is a smart alternative to germ-infested cloth towels.

    This decorative wall shelf installs easily and doubles as a dispenser of soft, disposable hand towels that reduce the spread of illness and germs commonly found on shared contaminated cloth towels.

The 14"–long shelf holds up to 10 lbs. and can be painted to match your decor.

You also receive mounting hardware, a dispenser cover and 100 paper towels.

$19.99 here.

But perhaps madame is thinking, ah, this is nice but what about the baby?

Well, guess what?

The designer of this signature object had exactly the same thought: thus we have, for you, the Healthy Shelf Plus (below).

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You get the basic sanitary hand towel dispenser as in the original up top but with the addition of a baby wipe dispenser at one end.

Now everyone can have a clean machine.

This tricked–out upgrade measures 23" long and costs $29.99 here.

If you insist I suppose you could go ahead and paint yours in true stealth matte black but sometimes more is a bit too much.

Better to hide in plain sight, it seems to moi.

December 2, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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