Mozilla Insights

For those who use Mozilla Firefox as their browser, here's a neat-o-keen-o (which I just became aware of, maybe you already knew):
  1. Load up as many tabs as there are blogs or sites that you routinely read, including your own, your e-mail, etc. (I did this by clicking the 'home' button ten times or so, then opening each tab and clicking on one of my Standing Ovationals or Applaudables, until all the sites I enjoy reading were displayed across top).
  2. Go to 'Tools', 'Options', and then click the 'Use Current Pages' button.
  3. Now your Home Pages will be all the sites you read.

Book recommendation: The Best American Science and Nature Writing

This series, edited by Tim Folger — and specifically this 2004 edition, edited by Steven Pinker — is filled to the proverbial brim with interesting articles and short essays expertly plucked from a wide range of publications. One need not be a dyed-in-the-wool Darwinian or even an advocate of unadulterated mother Earth to enjoy portions — or all — of this collection.

I especially loved the 12-page article: The Battle For Your Brain, which focused on current and future neuropharmaceutical drugs as well as "neuroethics" surrounding their use, proposed limitations, and delineations of 'therapy' and 'enhancement'. I found this unbiased article, written by Ronald Bailey, extremely well written and informative.

The article, We're All Gonna Die!, of similar length — and similarly enjoyed — is the polar opposite in terms of tone and entertainment-value of many non-fiction articles. Instead, Gregg Easterbrook lists the top ten methods and modes the human race currently fears it will be eradicated from the earth and then deconstructs each in turn. I was wonderfully entertained as I enhanced my knowledge.

And in a short article by Jonathan Rauch: Caring for Your Introvert, I learned why 75% of the people I've met in my life don't understand me (and — more importantly — why they don't want to understand me).

These are but three examples of twenty-five fantastic articles contained in this book. I highly recommend the paperback, which can be purchased online or at your local bookstore.

snooped and vandalized snapperhead

Just to pass along to whomever came a-calling within the walls: Thanks for not spray-painting your tag everywhere and pissing on my stuff. Although if you'd gone that far, I'd have noticed it sooner. Nonetheless, thanks for not fucking with my blog so much that I had to wipe my template clean and load an archived copy (which was a few days old) and re-do recent stuff.

To those who don't know to what I'm referring: Someone hacked my blog's password and then changed many--if not all--of my settings. First I noticed my archived months had changed to digital (I prefer the world-recognized: month and year; not illogical-land's: month-day-year, which poses questions like, "Is that the third of October or the tenth of March?").

I figured Blogger bumped to some defaut settings when they made improvements a week ago or so. I was wrong. Once I reailized my e-mail post and post editor were no longer visible, I examined every setting. The 'comments allowed' was changed to 'registered users only', the clock was changed to 'AM/PM stamp' instead of the logical '24-hour clock'. Hell, almost everything that could have been dicked with, was.

None of the posts seem to be changed (although I haven't re-read many of the old ones, there may be altered text I have not found).

I've changed my password and have backed-up my template.

Maybe this was someone's fun and games. I will use it as a lesson learned.

film reviews (late spring 2005)

Off the Map (2003) directed by Campbell Scott (Big Night, 1996); starring Valentina de Angelis and Joan Allen: Snaprating=Keeper, RE-ORDER theme (CHARACTER secondary theme). The WFT film Secondhand Lions aspires to become as tightly directed and wonderfully scripted as this insightful glimpse of a precocious 12 year old girl, her family, and friends.

Kung Fu Hustle (Gong Fu) (2004) directed by Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, 2001); starring Stephen Chow and Qiu Yuen: Snaprating=Keeper, PROBLEM theme. Far more over-the-top than a Warner Brothers cartoon, kung-foolishness fans (who enjoy Jackie Chan movies) will get their fill of giggles while being thrilled by constant CGI-slap-stick, stomp-stick, and crush-stick.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003) directed by Judy Irving (Kids by the Bay, 1999); starring Mark Bittner and a flock of parrots: Snaprating=Cheaper, CHARACTER theme. Documentary fans should be captivated by this endearing 'Crumb meets Animal Planet' nature film.

The Interpreter (2005) directed by Sydney Pollack (The Firm, 1993); starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn: Snaprating=WFD, PROBLEM theme (MILIEU secondary theme). Pollack's signature 'tiny pool of A-list actors' and a bland script hurts this routine political-thriller in which the United Nations building is the most interesting thing to watch. He did it better in the Keeper: Three Days of the Condor.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) directed by Garth Jennings (big-screen directorial debut); starring Sam Rockwell and Mos Def: Snaprating=WFD, MILIEU theme (PROBLEM sub-theme). Fans of dry British humor (who enjoy the adherence of the Harry Potter films to their books) may be unhappy with this oblique sketch of Douglas Adams's book because of a dumbed-down script and poor CGI -- even though it's novelty and uniqueness outweighs it's vagary and camp.

Crash (2004) directed by Paul Haggis (big-screen directorial debut, screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby, 2004); starring Don Cheadle, Michael Pena, Sandra Bullock and many others: Snaprating=Cheaper, RE-ORDER theme. This somber snakes-and-ladders-game, (with every flavor of hate on display) effectively combines: 21 Grams and Thirteen Conversations About the Same Thing, insuring you feel dismayed with your fellow-man, upset, and maybe even angry when the credits roll.

Palindromes (2004) directed by Todd Solondz (Happiness, 1998); starring Ellen Barkin and Richard Masur: Snaprating=Cheaper, CHARACTER theme. Solondz fans, and fans of other directors who cause you to pause and think, will overlook the grainy quality of this disturbingly-unique examination of abortion, statutory rape, and pedophilia, which is almost (but not really) a sequel to Welcome To The Dollhouse.

Mindhunters (2003-2005) directed by Renny Harlin (Deep Blue Sea, 1999); starring LL Cool J and Val Kilmer: Snaprating=WFC, PROBLEM theme. Fans who liked My Little Eye, Identity or The Cube will find (this time around) our clueless victims are unbelievable FBI Agents in this over-cooked and over-edited example of a closed-box slasher-movie--but many may still enjoy the exercise of identifying the killer before he's the last one alive.

Snaprating Legend

Book Ratings

I was asked, in the meat, if my book recommendations had a star-scale similar to my film scale. I responded, "of course". And then posed a question (the answer of which would provide me with necessary seconds to think and compose a scale, which I figured would not be difficult). I was wrong. So, I blathered an incomplete answer and then confessed. "I obviously haven't thought it through."

This is my result of thinking it thru:
  • Hardback: Worth new-cover publishers retail hardback price (currently approaching thirty dollars US). The term Hardback is not used to infer a book is available in hardback, merely that it is worth this price. Only books considered worth re-reading time and time again are worth this price.

  • Paperback: Worth new-cover retail paperback price and the six to twelve month wait (currently ten dollars or slightly more).

  • WFU: Wait For Used, worth waiting for availability at a used book store; web-based or locally, availability always fluctuates and some authors never stay on used bookstore shelves. Second-hand bookstores normally begin at half the cover price and fluctuate depending on supply and demand. With gas or postage, average cost is seven dollars.

  • WFL: Wait For Library, worth waiting for availability at your local library (unpredicatable range of time from months to years, depending on your library). The public library is normally free, but with gas and occasional late-fees, average cost is one dollar.

  • WFT: Waste of Fucking Time, reading this book would be a mistake. If you are at all intrigued by the story: Wait For Themovie.

one station eighteen

digital rendering by veach st. glines, creative commons license 2005

Confused by Shifting Mutterings & Dearth

Visiting and re-visiting my applaudables and standing ovationables, lately, I sorrowfully noticed that a few have -- for many unfortunate months -- fallen into neglect. I'm not concerned about multiple week sabbaticals and even month-long absences (which are almost always prefaced with a 'gone fishin' notice of one kind or another) but rather the few who simply departed without a kindly nod to us, me, their attentive readers.

Although the art of the web-based-log is something every individual has to measure by their own reach, no matter how limited, I do not applaud blogs with months of vacancy and dearth.

I say, then, fare-thee-well to:

You will be missed by me. I enjoyed your words, stories, and insights.

On a totally different note, which is along the same vein, I read the following (which clearly confused me) at unfounded shamanic shifting & powerful foolish wondering:

Last night, as I was reading some favorite weblogs, I became aware of a creepy, fearful, dismay (sic) reaction defusing through me, from from my toes on up - because I was realizing that the likes of us are likely to get booted out of the blogosphere for logging a grossly insufficient number of cogent, critical, cursive, cynical, or saucy copyright violating posts on our blogs. Our bloggings must seem bloggled, boggy, or soggy to many quicker witted pundits, and some of them could stumble upon our weblogs.

I wish to thank Shamantic! The Wise (STW) for his tip of the hat toward snapperhead, since his words 'favorite weblogs' linked here. But I'm confused as to what this paragraph means. I linked to 'saucy', further linked to the sites referenced there, and further linked to many of the sites that are further link-referenced.

Although I understand from all this that the non-profit 'Creative Commons License' organization has been accepted by a corporate ad agency (in a pro-bono manner) I do not understand at all why this is a bother to anyone. Who cares if BzzAgent is helping to promote CC for free? And if anyone gives even one tiny bumble-fart one way or the other, PLEASE explain why, because I'm plainly sutpi-mystified.

As equally mystified as I am when I read and re-read your paragraph. When you say, "...booted...for logging a grossly insufficient number of...copyright violating posts...must seem...soggy to...quicker witted pundits...", are you stating we should plagiarize more or plagiarize less? Is this sarcasm? Does this read as contradictory to others as it does to me? STW, seriously now, were you floating on a bit of nature when you composed this paragraph?

Since STW does not permit comments on his site, I post these questions here in hope that someone (some quicker witted pundit) will shed some light where I am blind.

Book Recommendation: One Door Away From Heaven

With alien-angels versus many colorful layers of evil (kind of like Neapolitan Ice Cream), Dean Koontz's writing is true-to-form, comfortable and in a familiar, par-level groove. This problem-themed story contains several intricate and interesting characters who narrowly escape death about every fifteen pages (until the last chapter when they escape every fifteen sentences or so). Although nothing new for quality Koontz, it also -- however -- contains nothing surprisingly unexpected or extremely engrossing. A 'quick read' which is skillfully crafted and enjoyable; don't spend more than a buck for the paperback at a used book store if it is not available for free at your local library.

snaarked film meme

  1. Total number of films I own on DVD or video: 49 DVDs. No video (any longer).

  2. Last film I bought: Hero (Ying xiong), 2002, directed by Yimou Zhang, starring Jet Li (Keeper-obviously).

  3. Last film I watched: Mindhunters, 2003-2005, directed by Renny Harlin, starring LL Cool J and Val Kilmer (WFD, full review in a few weeks).

  4. Five films that I watch a lot or mean a lot to me:
    • The Seven Samauri is the best 3 1/2 hour b&w film ever made. A litmus test film. Someone who falls asleep or can't sit through it can probably only be an aquaintance of mine, never a close friend.
    • High Fidelity; John Cusack making life-lists to the camera - hilarious and insightful.
    • Clerks; I loved laughing at it in the 90's waaaay too much.
    • The Quiet Earth; Although I haven't watched it in a while, it's one of those Aussie films that sticks in my head.
    • Bladerunner is one of the few films I re-watch/listen-to for background while painting.

  5. To which five people am I passing the baton? No one, of course. Meme's, by their very nature, are in no need of my assistance; making their own way thru the ehr-waves.

berserk helix (k-cain-day lix)

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digital rendering by veach st. glines, creative commons license 2005

Summary of Annual Meteor Showers

This excellent encapsulation by Mike Reynolds, of all things which are bright and moving -- fast -- through the night sky of the northern hemisphere, is available for purchase online (about 15$US). Everyone who enjoys shooting-star gazing should own a copy. I find this excerpt very helpful (major showers are in bold):

Active PeriodPeak DaysZenithal Hourly Rate
28 DEC - 7 JAN
28 DEC - 28 JAN
14 DEC - 14 FEB
13 JAN - 13 FEB
31 JAN - 23 FEB
2 FEB - 19 MAR
13 FEB - 8 APR
14 FEB - 25 APR
24 FEB - 27 MAR
10 MAR - 21 APR
10 MAR - 6 MAY
5 APR - 21 APR
16 APR - 25 APR
15 APR - 7 MAY
21 APR - 12 MAY
1 MAY - 9 MAY
8 APR - 16 JUN
19 MAY - 19 JUN
21 MAY - 16 JUN
10 JUN - 21 JUN
1 JUN - 15 JUL
19 MAY - 2 JUL
27 JUN - 5 JUL
2 JUN - 29 JUL
9 JUL - 20 JUL
14 JUL - 18 AUG
15 JUL - 11 SEP
1 JUL - 18 SEP
12 AUG
17 JUL - 24 AUG
16 JUL - 10 SEP
9 AUG - 30 AUG
26 JUL - 1 SEP
11 AUG - 10 SEP
25 AUG - 6 SEP
1 SEP - 14 SEP
12 AUG - 7 OCT
20 SEP - 2 NOV
22 SEP - 23 OCT
7 SEP - 27 OCT
6 OCT - 9 OCT
10 OCT - 27 OCT
15 OCT - 29 OCT
17 SEP - 27 NOV
12 OCT - 2 DEC
25 SEP - 5 DEC
14 NOV - 21 NOV
13 NOV - 2 DEC
8 DEC - 2 JAN
16 NOV - 18 DEC
9 NOV - 18 DEC
6 DEC - 19 DEC
12 DEC - 23 JAN
17 DEC - 25 DEC
11 DEC - 21 JAN
3-4 JAN
8 & 21 JAN
17 JAN
24 - 31 JAN
5 - 10 FEB
22 FEB
3 - 9 MAR
around 20 MAR
around 18 MAR
around 20 MAR
7 - 18 APR
14 - 15 APR
21 or 22 APR
30 APR (varies)
18 - 19 MAY
10 JUN
15 JUN
18 JUN
20 JUN
28 JUN
27 JUN
14 JUL
29 JUL
12 AUG
12 or 13 AUG
13 AUG
13 - 14 AUG
18 AUG
25 AUG
11 SEP
First Week of OCT
6 - 15 OCT
19 OCT
21 OCT
30 OCT - 7 NOV
4 - 7 NOV
Around 14 NOV
17 NOV
21 NOV
8 - 9 DEC
10 DEC
11 DEC
13 - 14 DEC
19 - 29? DEC
22 - 23 DEC
31 DEC
45 - 200
Up to 4
3 - 5
2 - 5
3 - 4
1 - 2
1 - 3
5 - 10
up to 5
10 - 20
2 - 6
2 - 3
1 - 2
up to 8
1 - 2
about 2 - 4
1 - 2
15 - 20
6 - 14
7 - 8
1 - 2
50 - 60 minimum
up to 10
up to 6
5 - 10
up to 9
1 - 4
up to 5
3 - 5
1 - storm of many thousands
1 - 2
25 - 30
about 7
about 7
up to 5
10 - 15+
1 - 5
1 - 2
50 - 100
10 - 20

book recommendation: Nightwings

In the early 1970's Robert Silverberg was an author with an agenda. Not satisfied with merely penning a story with a moral or with an underlying message (which most writers do to some extent) this future-fantasy focuses on the vast mistakes of genetic tampering and mankind's callous disregard (disdain?) for other life-forms. From beginning to end, the "bad humans" dead-horse is kicked and kicked some more.
When I read an author who handles any subject with a heavy hand, I immediately suspect personal politics and religious zealotry guide the author's hand more than any imagination and creativity.
I enjoyed the characters, the setting(s), and the smoothly eloquent writing style, but I suspect the reason this book won a Hugo Award was because of it's 1974 political relevance.
This book is available at most major libraries.