Hart Island

Just northeast of the Bronx in Long Island Sound there’s an island that is technically the largest cemetery in the United States, and the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world. Almost none of the graves are marked in any conventional fashion because it’s where New York City buries its unclaimed bodies; otherwise known as a “Potter’s Field.”

Hart Island has been used for nearly 200 years as a place where New York does its private business; in addition to being the final resting place of the city’s prisoners, stillborn children and unidentified remains, the island has also held a POW camp, a women’s asylum, and a missle base.

Naturally it’s off limits to the public, but all it takes to get there is a boat and some bravery. I wish I had either.

Tom Cruise Spammers

A few years ago[1], I wrote a short blog entry about Tom Cruise, and a few days ago I got a comment on it, either from a spam bot or some extremely motivated non-English speaker. Take a look. The URL behind the commenter’s name appears to have no malicious code inside it. My guess is it’s a test site for blog spammers.

In other news, I wrote a nice piece of wishful thinking for OK Communicator today, as well as an entry on Iranian music I had originally composed for this blog, but thought I would shift it over to OKC.

And did I not mention the recent Wall Street Pillow Fight? Or my walk home from work last week, with the storm coming in? Or the Michael Manring show? Sorry I’ve been out of touch.

1.) Wow. Have I really been doing this for that long?

The First Documented Case of Legitimately Funny Conservative Humor

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Political humor thrives on opposition. The liberal Bloom County flowered under the conservative Reagan/Bush period. The Daily Show exploded under Bush II. But no one really rose to the occasion during the Clinton era, unless you consider Rush Limbaugh to be an Andy Kaufman-esque performance artist/comedian[1]. Also, P.J. O’Rourke is too libertarian to qualify for the job and Mallard Fillmore as a comic strip is a misshapen, humorless, Unholy Thing That Should Not Be, so the less said about it, the better.

Now that a Democrat is in office, conservative comedy has the green light. And finally, the GOP may be able to bring the goods. In blog form, a concept that is actually hilarious…Barack Obama’s Teleprompter’s Blog.

The prose is pitch-perfect, and so well characterized that I almost wonder if it’s not being written by an extremely self-deprecating liberal.

1.) Which I kind of do, actually. He knows he a huckster. He has to. All talk radio hosts do. So does Ann Coulter.

OK Things

Here are some recent entries I’ve posted over at OK Communicator for your enjoyment and others’:

It’s Getting Better All the Time
Man on Wire
The Decline of Western Culture

You might want to bookmark/RSS that site if you haven’t already. I’m still not sure how it is that I decide to post in one place or the other. There are more chatty strangers over there willing to argue with me, so there’s a certain appeal to that.

Also, check out Flickr for a video I took of Caroline’s baby kitties.

Obama Bits

Two tidbits of Obama that I came across this week on kottke.org:

First, the omnipresent Obama “Hope” poster by Shepard Fairey was adapted from an AP photo taken at a National Press Club gathering on Darfur, where George Clooney was speaking about his recent trip to that region. So the person Obama is looking at in the iconic poster is either Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas, shudder) or George Clooney.

Second, the new whitehouse.gov is up and running, with no apparent archive of the Bush-era website. However, Kottke points out that the new robots.txt file has changed considerably. The robots.txt is a small file that sits in a web server and tells search engines what to index and what not to. The Bush administrations txt file had almost 2400 lines of DISALLOW. Obama’s has one, the /includes/ directory, which contains no readable content anyway.

Oh, and there’s a White House blog.

The Unlikely Event of a Water Landing

Slade nails it to the wall and puts Christmas lights around it regarding US Airways Flight 1549.

I haven’t yet mentioned that I penned a rather lengthy screed for him just recently on the Joys of Metal. Check it out. I’ll be doing slightly more organized and considered[1] blog entries for him as soon as I come with topics.

1.) Maybe. Probably more so than this place, which really just serves as a silo for instant dispatches from my brain.

Link Inventory

I’ve had a glut of fun links that I’ve sent around to various people recently. After a certain critical mass, I realized I should just drop them all onto the blog for everyone to enjoy. Also, if you’re on Gmail, I’ll be adding fun links as I find them to my status there via Snurl, a service for making really long links into tiny ones. My intake of new blogs and articles has multiplied exponentially since I added The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Wired and New York Magazine to my Firefox bookmarks toolbar, and here are some of the results:

  1. ClapClap’s history of the long, slow rise of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which began its pop-culture life as Jeff Buckley’s cover of John Cale’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s tune, and now, given its apparent pervasiveness, seems poised to become the next “Amazing Grace.”[1]

    ClapClap’s Michael Barthel talks about how the song gets used on Scrubs and The OC as an easy and cheap emotional shorthand. This made me realize how easily a legitimately emotional piece of music can easily become banal through overuse, the entropy of art. Classic rock stations have the same effect. But Barthel disagrees:

    “This is the beauty of the pop song: it’s an artistic hooker with a heart of gold, always willing to be used. It can become a tool, but a song isn’t a Matisse—if it’s used as a washcloth, just wring it out and it’s good as new.”

  2. McSweeney’s deliciously satirical sendup of Ayn Rand, updated for the new financial crisis.

  3. And speaking of economics, I’ve read in several places now that economic downturn is bad news for libertarians. The Becker-Posner blog says it best:

    “The financial crisis has hit economic libertarians in the solar plexus, because the crisis is largely a consequence of innate weaknesses in free markets and of excessive deregulation of banking and finance, rather than of government interference in the market.”

  4. Completely unrelated to anything else thus far, here’s a story about a woman with completely perfect recall. She can remember every detail about every day of her life. Why the Greek tragedians never thought of this, I can’t say.
  5. And, for dessert, cupcakes from John Mayer.

I should mention that a few of these items came via Andrew sullivan’s blog at The Atlantic. I’m addicted. His range is wide, his diction and syntax elegant, and his politics reasonable. I found it very interesting when Michael Barthel of clapclap said, “when you mainly get the world through people who share your filter, it strengthens and hardens.” Incidentally, Andrew Sullivan is a conservative, gay, Christian British guy. So he’s nobody’s echo chamber. Everyone should check him out.

1.) We’ll have to wait about 50 more years to really find out, though.