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Papa  Vox archive:
July through October, 2010
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October 30, 2010

Finally, a step toward sanity:

Naturally occurring genes can not be patented or owned

Thank you, Obama Administration DOJ.

And further a step away from sanity: the TSA will now aggressively grope the hell out of you if you refuse the "strip you naked" cancer-causing X-rays.

October 24, 2010

Getting in touch with your inner Neanderthal. Not the club-wielding, grunting brute, but the sensitive, artistic, gentle rugby player.

One pilot decides he's had enough of strip-you-naked scans, pat downs and searches: he was "detained, interrogated by TSA and police, and then suspended from his job." 

Great coffee on the go: most coffee-geek travelers just use an AeroPress, but this guy likes to do things differently.

10,000 year old mammoth found at high elevation near Snowmass, Colorado. For those of you who believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old, skip this article, because it will just get you all confused and upset, and we certainly can't have that.

World's largest home. Needs a staff of 600.

What do you get when you distill water from the San Jose municipal water treatment plant? A delicious "low-dosage cocktail of our most commonly used drugs (including birth control, antibiotics, hallucinogenics, anti-depressants, meth-lab waste, vitamins and minerals) all brought together in one simple salty remedy, naturally."

A cure for autoimmune diseases? Yes, but it's not a pill. 

"During the past four decades, at least 459 people may have died at the hands of highway serial killers."

The joys of privatizing; pay up -- in advance -- or the fire department will just sit around and watch your house burn to the ground. However, they'll keep your neighbor's house safe from the flames; he paid.

Other countries have really comfortable, luxurious bus travel. It's just now starting to come to the US.

The state of publishing today; do you really need a publisher?

Americans are religiously illiterate; take the test (it's quick, only 15 questions) to find out where you stand.

Fancy, high-tech Fiskars push-mower. Very green (and somewhat orange.) 

October 9, 2010

If you use a pencil for professional purposes (drafting, writing at length, sketching designs and projects, music composing and marking, and of course, producing actual artwork) then here is some good news: the famous Palomino Blackwing pencil is back in production, and it's a beauty.

My breathless announcement of this exciting fact left a large room full of workplace colleagues stunned for a moment. Then they recovered and laughed their heads off at me. Hey, my heart was in the right place. I thought that this pencil could change their lives -- to the degree that a pencil is capable of changing one's life, anyway.

Sometimes my geekiness really comes bursting to the surface in a flagrantly humiliating way. This is one of those times, I guess, and I pay the price. No matter that some very famous professionals also waxed geeky over the Blackwing (see below.)

Anyway. The pencil, as a professional tool, is in a pretty dismal state, unless you go to the trouble of ordering special versions. You take, generally, what you can get, and what you usually get is only marginally useful. The Blackwing, however, changes that. It flows across the paper like Sonja Henie on the ice. If you have bad handwriting, it makes it better -- much better. If you have a ton of work to do, it goes faster -- much faster. If you write, your writing will be more inspired (just ask John Steinbeck.) If you draw, you draw prettier, and if you compose music, you'll write tunes that engender wild applause (just ask Stephen Sondheim.)
The legendary old version on bottom, the new version on top.
All that for about $2 per pencil. Not cheap, but any professional knows that cheap tools are the bane of their existence. And yes, if you seek out specialty artist's supply houses, there are many other very good (expensive) pencils out there, with a huge array of hardness levels. What separates the Blackwing from the rest is the way the point moves on the paper. It's a smooth, silky glide, with exactly the right amount of even resistance, all while laying down a layer of tint that is proportionally responsive to pressure.

Hardness on the Blackwing is not listed -- the composite core is kind of hard to pin down in that way -- but it's about an HB in density.

You can order Palomino Blackwing pencils here.

September 27, 2010

Eudora: the best email program ever made. But, it's been orphaned by the vagaries of ever-evolving computer technology, and someday, it just won't work anymore. I still use it, and still find it to be the best ever, but the clock is ticking.

One option is to consider trying Mailforge, which is an attempt to mimic the old Eudora GUI with full function for the modern OS.

However, as I've written before, starting in 2006, the guys who wrote Eudora started working on an Open Source version, based on the excellent Mozilla mail client, Thunderbird. The codename was Penelope, and now you can get the first release of the stable, ready-for-prime-time version, called:

Eudora OSE 1.0. (It stands for "Open Source Edition.") It's free. And it works.

It improves the functionality of the Thunderbird interface, and it imports all of your old Eudora folders, address books and settings slick as a whistle.

Sign the online petition to stop the Great Firewall of the USA: "This is the kind of heavy-handed censorship you'd expect from a dictatorship, where one man can decide what web sites you're not allowed to visit. But the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to pass the bill this week -- and Senators say they haven't heard much in the way of objections! "

Watch thousands of CCTV feeds, report on "suspicious activity" and get paid. Do you feel safer yet?

Stop smothering your kids with fear, suspicion, paranoia, and paralyzing over-protectiveness. Let them do a few dangerous things -- with your supervision.

A website following the leading edge of very cool bicycle design.

Fast, cheap, natural flavor infusions; chefs all over the world are playing with the iSi Cream Whipper.

http://foodporn.com/ The name says it all. As does http://foodporndaily.com/. And also, here's some amazing Chocolate food porn.

And also stove porn, UK style.

But "Perfect Brownies," UK style? Do the Brits know ANYTHING about brownies?

How to choose a font.

Beautiful, unpublished photos of the cave at Lascaux. Primo art, 18,000 years old.

An MRI can show you all sorts of helpful things, but some of the drugs they use to "enhance" the image are turning out to be lethal.

The art of vintage motorcycle restoration, with the emphasis on art.

“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.
“None of your business,” I said.
Her eyes widened in disbelief.
“Excuse me?” she asked.
“I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.
This did not go over well. 
What happened next. And some details on why.

Winston Churchill ordered an alleged UFO incident in the 1950s be kept secret to prevent "mass panic."

Five ways the Drug War hurts kids

September 8, 2010

RIP, Uncle Will: Maestro, Mentor, Friend, Mensch. The End of an Era.   Memorial concert, September 19, 2010

And now, entertaining links, and several that fall into the "worse than you thought" category.

July 30, 2011
The 100 best magazine articles ever written. Starting in 1945, many hours of fascinating reading.

July 24, 2010

(See the "Archives" for previous posts -- here's the most recent)

Proud to be a "True Blue" American.
Freedom in America today

What's my ISP connection speed?

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Hacking yourself:

An experiment in the supposition that shoes are bad for you with reviews of various "nearly barefoot" alternatives to the evil shoe.

An experiment in lowering the set-point as a means of safe, rapid, nearly-effortless weight loss.

The miracle of medical massage.

Where do your tax dollars go?

Want your vote to count?




Cool links:
Your daily Peanuts ®
Astronomy Picture of the Day

Don't be suckered by a dubious email that smells like an urban myth. Look it up and find out:

 David Brin's Blog
One of today's greatest SciFi authors. A rational, scientific approach to modern life and governmental policy -- what a radical concept!

Websites worth visiting:
Big Brass Blog
Black Box
Center for American Progress
Crooks and Liars
Daily Kos
Dem Underground
Groupnews Blog
Huffington Post
Left in the West
Media Matters
MM News
Susie Bright's Journal

Papa's Reading list:
  Good books. 

Contact your members of Congress:

 Educate yourself:

The US Cabinet
Your State Government
Executive Orders
Amnesty International


Free Anti-Virus programs.

I currently use:
avast!  anti-virus   download
Ad-Aware  anti-adware  download
Spybot   anti-spyware  download
CCleaner  system & registry cleanup  download
All are free, all work great. I run all three once a week like clockwork. They all update themselves when you ask them to -- which you should do once a week before you run the cleanup program. I've never had a single problem with any of them.

is the browser recommended by computer security experts -- it's fast, safe, powerful, and free.

is a free email program with superior security and great features.

"Eudora OSE" Eudora-style
version of  Thunderbird -- free
Stable release 1.0

is a free open-source media player. Secure, private -- and it plays just about everything.

Miro media player




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