Saturday, November 21, 2009

This Site is Being Superceded

This site is being superceded by

Henceforth that will be the main repository of my creative superpowers. As such, it will have a certain 'everything and the kitchen sink' charm to it.

Soon I will tramp-up this site with all manner of ads. If you have enjoyed reading anything here, please click through to one or two of them. The pennies I receive will be 'Pennies from Heaven.'




Friday, September 11, 2009

Michael Jackson: Insomniac Sought Amnesiac Bliss

Propofol3d It is an irony of Michael Jackson's peculiar life that a recording star would die in pursuit of a drug that confers a form of erasure: the erasure of duration from one's awareness.

teac_x-1000rPropofol, the anaesthetic apparently responsible for the sudden cardiac arrest that ended Mr. Jackson's promising re-entry into arena performance, has often been termed 'milk of amnesia.' Police interviewers reported that, in the course of issuing his demands for the drug, Jackson himself had referred to it as his 'milk.' An aqueous emulsion, propofol has the white appearance of milk, but it is plausible that the surgery-savvy Jackson was also familiar with the colloquial moniker satirizing the drug's mental effects.

Propofol Typically, abusers of this drug first seek it out in an attempt to treat an otherwise intractable insomnia. The Guardian reported an expert in addiction treatment commenting, "What's shocking is that most Propofol [addicted] patients are not looking for euphoria or for a high, they just want to go into a coma. They are wanting to disappear." Many of them are choosing to do so to avoid the intrusive thoughts that accompany traumas like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or a history of childhood sexual abuse.

While there is public knowledge of Mr. Jackson's poor treatment at the hands of his father during his childhood, any suggestion of sexual abuse would have to be inferred from allegations of inappropriate relationships with young boys that dogged Jackson over a period of many years, resulting in a criminal trial and, separately, a reputed payoff of a substantial sum of money to buy the silence of a family whose son was alleged to have engaged in some type of sexual activity with Mr. Jackson.

But as a self which presumably faced itself in the mirror at least on occasion, though perhaps only then by accident, this logical referent of 'Man in the Mirror' seemed to evolve over the years into a Möbius strip of negative identity feedback, a fact to which the endless plastic surgeries and ever more garish facial sculpting attest. It could well have been a case of plastic surgeons treating body dysmorphic disorder.

If we think of the propofol experience as a lacuna of the self, an absence or obliteration that lifts only when the drug ceases to be dripped into the veins, it possesses phenomenological resemblance to an amnesia.

2009700917Amnesia as an 'organic' psychological defense mechanism exists too, of course, and, as if to remind us, a month after MJ's demise, a man wandered out of Seattle's Discovery Park, knowing nothing of his past. What drew him to Discovery Park? Perhaps he was hoping to 'discover' his identity, though this is unlikely given that the subtype of amnesia he most probably suffers from is 'psychogenic' amnesia, resulting from psychological trauma, rather than, say, a degenerative brain disease. Contrary to the propofol example, if personal choice is operative here, it is at a deeply obscured and perhaps inaccessible level.

conrad-murray Separately we are confronted with the possibility of dissembling as a  manifestation of 'fraudulent amnesia,' when considering the odd discrepancies in the timeline of events given by Mr. Jackson's personal physician, the eminent cardiologist, Dr. Conrad Murray, who has acknowledged administering several sedatives and subsequently, propofol, at 10:40am, an odd hour to go for the heavy guns.

His is the type of deposition that often morphs into a base form of legal posturing, as defendants testify in court with answers like 'I don't recall' or 'I have no recollection of that happening.' Where has their memory gone, we are left to wonder. One would have imagined such a hair-raising series of events to be accompanied by a concomitant sharpening of the senses.

For this sub-species of man the beautiful lie is the one that can be contorted from the facts, like an alphabet from paper clips, rather than the one that needs to be manufactured from whole cloth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Weasels Attack

Given that the entire global economy has tanked in the wake of unscrupulous lending practices that began in the US sub-prime home mortgage market, you would think that CNN, the self-proclaimed 'Worldwide Leader in News,' might chose to distance itself from mortgage lenders as customers for a while, at least until things cool off and the DOW rebounds a bit more.

Instead, CNN had sold airtime- for months now- to an advertiser called 'TMU,' which is running ads that deceptively mimic the visual style of TV news.

The ad begins with a swoosh graphic announcing 'BREAKING NEWS' and proceeds to an 'on-air personality' delivering what appears to be a news story. The typical elements of a CNN piece are all readily apparent: the over-the-shoulder graphic, the lower third, the crawl. They dovetail quite nicely with the lead-in promo for Anderson Cooper and the outro promo for Lou Dobbs. The ad shown ran on August 20, 2009.

An implicit association with the Federal government is apparent not only in the mention of the FHA, but also in the 'toll-free hotline,' which readers will recall was part of the 'Bush plan' to provide emergency assistance to those seeking to avoid foreclosure. In this case, it's a hotline to TMU. I never called it, but I may give it a shot.

I find this type of blurring-the-lines between news and those paying for airtime to be an inexcusable offence. If CBS can be fined for a Janet Jackson boob, CNN should be made to pay for this money-grab. Below I have appended images from the promos that appears before and after the ad, as well as the intro graphic to the next-up CNN story.

ac360CNNlou dobbs   

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Continental Airlines Hindu Meal

Garbage_Truck There was a time when you ordered a special meal because there were so few requests for them that they had to be individually prepared. This meant you usually ended up with something that was a grade above the ham and cheese on a fat white bun that you could otherwise expect. Well those days are gone. Now that cost-cutting measures have resulted in fees for checked bags, pillow-count reduction and other assorted insults, airlines have found a way to make the 'special' meal absolutely ordinary. The good news is that their secret research might have unintentionally provided us with a ray of hope for achieving world peace.

How do they do it, you ask? Let's call it 'meal-combining.' This sounds a little like the faddish 'food-combining' that peaked in popularity a few years ago. The idea is to take the common denominator of all the special ideological dietary mandates of the World, and to create dishes that simultaneously satisfy every set set of rules!

Of course, the airlines didn't think of this first. My guess is that the pioneering efforts should be attributed to Kosher Indian-Vegetarian restaurants, which differ from airlines because their food tastes good. Take a look at the label below:


Let me first draw your attention to the fact that this is the ingredient label for a breakfast sandwich. This breakfast sandwich was served to me on an evening flight, more typically the time when 'dinner' is served. This certainly didn't bode well, but I had a seen an Indian woman eating lentils with chapattis that looked really tasty just weeks ago, so I was still caught off-guard.

Now, this was only a single item out of the whole tortuous meal box, and all the other offerings had similarly long lists of ingredients, so I've chosen to use this merely as a representative example.

From this label you will see that our hope for world peace lies in our common interests. All of us, well not all of us, but VGML, VLML, MOML, and HNML people all want the same things! Among those things are, apparently, azodicarbomide, calcium sulfate, and vital wheat gluten. To decode the encrypted meal descriptors, they translate as follows:

VGML= Vegan Meal VLML= Ovo-Lacto Vegan Meal
MOML= Moslem Meal HNML= Hindu Meal

How something like ethoxylated diglycerides qualify as Vegan is a bit mystifying to me, but I guess it's listed in a handbook somewhere. In case you have trouble reading the label, you are looking at the recipe for a 'Wheat English Muffin, Vegan American Cheese, and a Vegan Sausage Patty.'

The accompaniments included a quinoa salad, which tasted even more like bird food than quinoa usually does, if such a thing is possible. It promptly went back in the box. Maybe that should be the name of the 'restaurant' where this food is made, 'Back in the Box.' There was also some sort of cookie-ish thing, which I found detestable, but which my 3½ yo daughter had no trouble happily gobbling down.

I don't know what Air France is doing these days, but the paté de campagne, the camembert with a crusty baguette, and the little bottles of Bourgogne rouge that followed one another, like loyal French mercenaries, in an endless procession toward their demise, still stands for me as the pinnacle of inflight meal service. Adieu, HNML!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Airplanes should be retrofitted with USB power on the armrests.

qantas1 I can't believe they use Hi8 tape for their entertainment playback. What dinosaurs- a 20 year-old tape format! Haven't they heard of DVDs? It's a  format which is built around easy menu driven, chapter-based playback and pausing, eliminating the need for swapping out tapes. But if you take a look in the closet of most passenger jets, you'll see ancient tape playback.

planeThe fact that they still don't offer WiFi is stupid enough. When it comes to cellular, I am not in favor of introducing cell-yell to the cabin, but texting and email would be ok.

USB would provide a safe, low-voltage power supply that passengers could use to charge their mobile devices during long flights, when available battery power is taxed. The cables are already widely available and it is a standard in peripheral device power.

The FAA approach to green-lighting cabin technology works about as quickly as NASA's. NASA has a flight-worthiness certification that takes so long, that it sent up twenty year-old tube cameras on probes, long after much-improved CCD technology was available. Of course, airlines don't want to spend money when they are losing money. They don't even like to paint their planes anymore, it seems. But if they can get people to swallow paying for baggage and food, anything is possible.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sensei Coffee

I've only managed to get within thirty feet of this device, so it is still on my to-do list to sample its brew. I know there are some who say they can taste the different between coffee brewed with bleached-paper filters and whole wheat filters, but I am not of that ilk. I don't disdain diner coffee, though I don't laud it either. But as the master says (see article) 'I am not ready.'
clipped from

At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee

WITH its brass-trimmed halogen heating elements, glass globes and bamboo paddles, the new contraption that is to begin making coffee this week at the Blue Bottle Café here looks like a machine from a Jules Verne novel, a 19th-century vision of the future.

Called a siphon bar, it was imported from Japan at a total cost of more than $20,000. The cafe has the only halogen-powered model in the United States, and getting it here required years of elliptical discussions with its importer, Jay Egami of the Ueshima Coffee Company.

“If you just want equipment you’re not ready,” Mr. Egami said in an interview. But, he added, James Freeman, the owner of the cafe, is different: “He’s invested time. He’s invested interest. He is ready.”

blog it

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mr. Coffee Model VBX20: Drippiest Coffee Maker Ever?

Certainly, drip coffee makers are expected to drip in order to perform their life-sustaining function of brewing coffee quickly and reliably. This Mr. Coffee Model, the VBX20- (an inexpensive model, I grant you) delivers, however, a large number of extraordinarily stupid and irritating drip modalities that render it, in the domain of kitchen appliances, something akin to an infant learning to eat cereal. It is a messy affair, from start to finish. The coffee it brews is fine, let's fact facts: that is mostly about coffee plus water, but soiling the counter top is an unacceptable by-product, and is indicative of an intolerable level of carelessness from the industrial designers responsible for creating this insulting plastic monster. Joe DiMaggio would be aghast. Let me explain.

First, if you look at the back of the machine, on the far right in the photo, you will note two holes in the water tank. Bizarrely, should you attempt to fill the tank with water from the carafe and approach at anything but a precisely correct angle, water will spew forth from the holes. Ludicrous. Then, when the dripping process begins, it is accompanied by spattering, as seen in the middle image. Should you interrupt the brewing process before completion, a fairly standard technique of morning coffee lovers, the dripping head will not cease its dripping instantly. One, two, three four, five remaining drips will luxuriantly emerge from the spout and tumble onto the heated platter below, where they spatter and vaporize. Invariably, if you place the carafe on the counter- something I know by now never to attempt, you will be the proud papa (or mama) of a charming series of coffee rings.

The final and most egregious insult comes from the mere act of POURING the coffee into your cup. This, the quintessential act of coffee maker deployment fails, in the typically baffling drippy manner of the VBX20. With every pour, mysterious drops of coffee unavoidably scatter on your counter top. Have your handi-wipe handy, that's all i can offer as advice.
It's more than a coffee maker. It is a mess maker.