Friday, May 4, 2007

Amazon History

Via the latest Wilson Quarterly, a mention of an interesting piece in Conservation magazine. In it Fred Pearce wonders how much of the Amazon rainforest is virgin. Today's Amazon explorers are finding evidence that pre-European civilizations had done some serious forest clearing of their own. Euro diseases probably led to the collapse of those civilizations, and, in the hundreds of years since, the forest has re-grown. But what percentage of today's forest is virgin?

Surely in the Amazon, the greatest rainforest on the planet, virginity can be discovered—nature red in tooth and claw? That's what everyone thought until an American oil prospector named Kenneth Lee first climbed aboard a beach buggy and bounced across the grassy lowlands of Baures in the Bolivian Amazon in the early 1980s. After a while, Lee began to wonder why he was bouncing so much in the grass.

On closer inspection, the landscape appeared to be corrugated. It was composed of a remarkably symmetrical series ofridges and trenches stretching as far as the eye could see. From time to time, he came across higher ridges that looked like roads, and wider depressions that seemed as if they might once have been canals. (Subscription required)

Transmitting Your iPod

A useful article comparing the many FM transmitters available for your iPod. Looks to me like this guy, and this one over here, are your best options. And, by best options, I mean that they seem to transmit clean audio to your FM radio. Most transmitters deliver disappointing signals.

Father Of American Wine?

Who deserves this title? Maybe Thomas Jefferson. (Again, via Wilson Quarterly)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Incident At Mid-State Office

The end of an era at The Onion? Was this the H-Dog's final column?

His offering from November 1998 will always be dear to me: "
Human-Resources B-----s Be Makin' Me Take Vacation Days." An absurdly devoted worker, the H-Dog is introduced to the concept of vacation days--and that he must take them or lose them. In response to the HR rep who delivered this news, our H-Dog responds:

...I just laughs at tha fool. "You payin' me to chill?" I says. "Man, that's some straight-up wack s--t, sucka."

The full Herbert Kornfeld archive

Friday, April 27, 2007

Geek Porn

The Making of Star Wars looks like an interesting book. And did you know that George Lucas considered Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington for the part of Han Solo? A nice review by Ain't It Cool News here.

Brain Study

Slate presents a fascinating series on brain science. Score one for online journalism.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bald Eagle Cam

Check out the incredibly crisp video quality of this Web Cam from National Geographic. You can see the ripples in the water down below the eagles' nest (and maybe you'll catch an eagle at home). Sadly, the young eagle chicks died in the recent nor'easter that blasted coastal Maine.

Video iPod Word-Of-Mouth

If you own a video iPod, I recommend a great little piece of freeware called HandBrake. It allows you to convert your DVD collection to iPod movie format. Easy instructions here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

"One-In-A-Million Shot"

As I continue playing catch-up after an extended blog-break, I bring you a photo from National Wildlife Magazine's 2006 reader photo contest:

From the pic's caption:

“This was a one-in-a-million shot,” says [Steve]Irving, who photographed a male calliope hummingbird (left) attempting to chase a female rufous hummingbird away from a feeding flower. The retired business owner made the digital image using a 70-200mm zoom lens while attending a photography workshop in British Columbia last year. “I’ve taken many photos of fighting hummingbirds,” he says. “Usually all I get is wings or a blur, or nothing at all.”

Gun Safety Gone Wrong

The Plank's write-up sets the scene. Then follow their link to The Smoking Gun's video.

Funny, Funny

One more from The Plank. Plankster Isaac Chotiner catches this beauty from a New York Times write-up on Rich Little, who will headline the White House Correspondent's Association dinner on Saturday night:

His promotional biography says, "He's particularly fond of
[imitating] Alan Ladd and other stars no longer typically remembered."

Yep. Nice use of "typically."

Beach Boys News

A new Beach Boys CD hits stores on May 22nd. No new music, of course. BUT... if I've gathered my info correctly... there are five songs released for the first time in stereo. And a sixth, "Wendy," has been re-polished into modern stereo.

My sources say these are the newly available stereo tracks: "All Summer Long," "You're So Good To Me," "Then I Kissed Her," "Please Let Me Wonder," "Let Him Run Wild," and "Wendy."

I've obtained a copy of "All Summer Long." I can't speak for the other tracks--yet--but "All Summer Long" is a mix of mono vocals with stereo instrumentals. I expect "Wendy," at least, to have stereo vocals, but we'll see.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bee Mystery

Are bee colonies really collapsing? Are cell phones the cause? It's a theory--with holes--as this story points out:

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have

German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.

Very disturbing. Above and to the right is a pic of a bee colony that took up residence in a bricked fence post at the back of my yard. Last summer, we hired an exterminator who rid us of the "problem." However, over the winter, fissures have developed in the the caulk he used to seal the post--and the bees are back.

If there is indeed something causing a decline in bee populations, I guess I'll leave my colony to its own devices for now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Imus... Out

I guess I'm just a little bit surprised that CBS fired Don Imus. Not because he didn't deserve to be. And not because most other companies wouldn't have done the same.

But having worked for CBS Radio myself, I've just never felt the corporate office was one that allowed principle to trump money interests. And, of course, maybe it didn't. My gut tells me an autonomous CBS Radio would never have fired Imus. The radio division has been a poor performer since well before Howard Stern left the building. And after an extremely tough year following Stern's exit, the last thing CBS Radio needed was to lose its other franchise talent. No, I think it took CBS proper, the parent, to read the political winds properly and to conclude that Imus had become dead weight--that it wasn't worth diverting the company's resources to his defense.

But back to the broader Imus story: Of the many postmortems I've come across, I think Andrew Sullivan's
best sums up the crime:

The culture has changed since Imus started in radio. White straight men don't control everything any more, and they don't get to set the rules for public discourse with the same finality they once did. What we've seen here is, I think, a genuine reflection of the new American mainstream. Most Americans simply find the spectacle of a rich white bigot beating up on young black female achievers after a crushing tournament loss to be gratuitously cruel and unfair. Punishing someone for calling college women "whores" - especially those who have beaten the odds and are role models for other black girls and women - is not a new step in political correctness. It's applying a very old American standard of fairness and decency, which now applies to all Americans, regardless of race or gender. This was the voice of mainstream America speaking. It's not what it once was. I wonder whether many of Imus's buddies realize that yet.

"The Lost Tomb of Jesus"

This is old news, but Greg Boyd offers a thorough rebuttal of James Cameron's Discovery Channel doc here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Well, after a long, long bloggy lay-off, this Imus stuff has motivated me to get my blog on again. Imus' career deserves to be in jeopardy. He deserved to be sacked by MSNBC. And I can see CBS Radio going either way.

Certainly, the two-week radio suspension is too short. I'll be shocked if, at the least, the suspension isn't greatly lengthened.

But my real motivation for this post is HRC. Hillary made a point yesterday of declaring that, not only does she never intend to go on an Imus-hosted show in the future,
she's never been the least bit interested in the past. That's rich. As if she's always avoided Imus for noble or ethical reasons. Honestly, both Clintons have always avoided most all (even mildly) difficult interview environments. For two well-educated people who are widely perceived to be blessed with formidable intellects, they've always seemed terrified of having to think on their feet and of having to defend themselves on the fly.

Anyone have a link to a transcript of Hillary's "Pink Press Conference"?

Great Easter Sermon

I heartily recommend Greg Boyd's April 8, 2007, sermon titled "The Jesus Legend." It provides a nice, brief defense and explanation of the origins of Christianity. Greg is a fun (and funny) preacher. My iPod contains a playlist devoted to his sermons.

My Day Job

If you have any interest in my professional outputs, you might consider visiting the iTunes store and checking out a Podcast titled Talkin' Cowboys. (an iTunes search for "Dallas Cowboys" will bring it up.)

This NFL off-season I've written and produced a couple of audio highlights montages for that Podcast: The Best of Terrell Owens and The Best of Marion Barber III. It's free to subscribe and free to download. I think of them as "audio football cards" for fans of those players. Veteran broadcaster Bill Jones narrates.