Monthly Archives: September 2004

Eddie Adams Obit

Capping a Viet CongPhotojournalist Eddie Adams died this weekend in New York. He was 71.

His picture of a South Vietnamese colonel executing a communist North Vietnamese Vietcong prisoner in Saigon earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Taken during the Tet offensive in 1968, the photo shows Lt Col Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a prisoner on the street in Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown district.

His picture shows the exact moment when the bullet enters the prisoner’s head. It is probably the one of the most iconic photographs of the war.

Rain Rain Came Again

After a week of nice, fairly sunny weather, the rains returned on Sunday. There is a tropical depression forming on top of Guam right now, bringing unceasing rain. Should clear out in another day or so. I don’t really mind, a little rain is nice.

There was another murder this weekend. Some guys were sitting around drinking on a ranch in Agat and one ended up with two shotgun blasts in the his chest. The real uproar in this murder is that the shooter turned out to be the prime suspect in a 1987 double murder/torture at the Brass Lantern Bar in Asan. In fact, the shooter was convicted in the double murders, but he was released on appeal because of a technicality – there was an error in the instructions the jury received – and he was set free in 1991. The attorney general at the time pledged to bring him to trial again, but somehow he slipped through the cracks and was never prosecuted again.

Oops.

Domestic Terror

Here’s one of those stories you just never see on television. 14 governors sent booby-trapped letters this month. I’ve heard nary a word of this: Big media is too obsessed with that font and kerning shit or that Swift Boat bullcrap. The FBI is treating it as domestic terrorism, probably neo-Nazi militia freaks, and I guess terrorism just isn’t a hot topic unless Muslims are involved. Besides, those neo-Nazi militia freaks are gun owners, which means they’d probably vote Republican if they weren’t busy crafting mail bombs.

Late Afternoon Movie Watching

Flipping through the channels just now and I caught the last ten minutes of North by Northwest, the Alfred Hitchcock classic. The part where Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are scrambling around on Mt. Rushmore, chased by Martin Landau.

After it was over, the talking head on Turner Classic Movies, the young guy, not usual host Robert Osborne, says his little piece. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something to the effect of “that was North by Northwest, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most successful artistic and financial films so far.” So far?? He can’t seriously be expecting Hitchcock to churn out another movie anytime soon. I would be rather surprised – since he’s been dead for over 24 years.

Turns out the host’s name is Ben Mankiewicz.

Back From The Dead

Holy moley. I slept over 14 hours. I fell asleep around 9:30 last night and I didn’t wake up until a little after 11:30 this morning. Guess I was tuckered out. Sure felt good to sleep, sleep, sleep.

Went into the office for a bit this afternoon, but I stopped to get my mail first at the Post Office. There was a postcard from my sister waiting for me. Nancy and her husband CJ were in Cornwall for about week or ten days. She sent me a reminder of a conversation we had while I was visiting St. Louis in August.

The Cerne Abbas Giant

I mentioned she and CJ should visit the Rude Giant of Cerne Abbas instead of Stonehenge. The giant is carved out of the chalk bedrock of Dorset, and is supposed to be 2,000 years old. Well they skipped the chalk man, but they did send me a postcard of his phallic majesty. Quite a sight isn’t he? You’d think with a weapon like that he’d have a big old grin on his face, but he looks pretty serious to me.

Geography Olympics – Geography Challenge

This is a fun little quiz. Geography Olympics – Geography Challenge. I scored 80%, not too bad. I can’t believe I couldn’t place the Marshall Islands… Well actually I can. The damn map is a bit vague with the locations of smaller nations, offering only white blips and no zoom control. Plus the edge map is in the middle of the Pacific, making it difficult to decide which identical white blip is the correct one – the one on the extreme left edge of the map or the one on the extreme right edge of the map. My other error was locating Senegal. I know where it is generally, somewhere in West Africa. I just don’t know for sure. Guess I’ll go look that up right now.

Nitey-Nite.

Back In Action

Sorry about the dearth of posts this week. I went on a bit of a bender this week, hitting the bars most every night after work, and stumbling around in a hungover daze at the office. Not exactly one of my most stellar weeks in corporate America. I haven’t had the energy to read and digest articles this week.

If I wasn’t trawling around in one of Guam’s many drinking establishments, I was a zombie wishing for a few hours sleep. I can only say a guy’s got to cut loose once in a while. Note that it is now Friday night, and I am home and completely worn out. I’ll probably be in bed by nine o’clock tonight. All play and little sleep makes Tommy a very tired boy. And other problems abound with this epicurean lifestyle. But I had a damn good time.

Nickel and Dimed

I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed today, and I wish I could say it was an eye opener. I’ve worked my share of low wages jobs, and I’ve wondered how somebody with a family could survive on the minimum wage. Ehrenreich answers it simply: you can’t. People live out of their cars, or share dilapidated housing with friends and relatives to survive. She writes simply and effectively, exposing the demeaning ways that companies keep these low wage workers in their thrall. And while she works diligently at her various jobs, Ehrenreich comes across as something of a guerrilla worker. I especially enjoyed her sojourn as ‘shelver’ and union agitator in Wal-Mart, something that desperately needs to be addressed. I was a bit disappointed that she quit so soon, I am certain if she continued mouthing off about unionizing her Wal-Mart her days in the Ladies Department would have been numbered.

I had a discussion with a coworker last week about unions, when I mentioned that I used to work on a loading dock in college and drove a forklift he was surprised. When I mentioned my union membership during that time, he was outright shocked. He was virulently anti-union, and he had nothing good to say about unions and unionized labor. Coming from a white collar accountant, I shouldn’t have been too surprised, but I was. His litany of union evils was the stock generalizations about lazy, non-productive workers shirking their duties to the company’s detriment. Coming from a union family, I couldn’t disagree more. My father’s union job put food on the table, a roof over my head and a warm bed for me to sleep in. The union even helped subsidize my education through a couple scholarships I earned. I see far more to fear in the ‘at will’ policies of Wal-Mart, McDonalds and their ilk. Only a fool would blindly follow union dogma, but I think that can be rightfully said about corporate benevolence. In an ideal capitalist economy, labor would be able to bargain and demand the best compensation from employers. Unfortunately the system is rigged to benefit the emerging global multi-nationals.

More On Paris’ Underground Cinema

A group or underground explorers claimed responsibility for the subterranean cinema that Paris police discovered last week. La Mexicaine de la Perforation claimed that the discovery was not a major problem for them, as underground explorers they lay claim to many other disused places in the bowels of the city. Sealed catacombs, abandoned Metro tunnels, underground quarries, and utility conduits are all fair game for these intrepid explorers. They know their way through many different networks, and the junctions between the systems.

Sounds pretty cool to me. Back in college we used to go roaming through a vast abandoned Ingersoll-Rand factory in Beloit. It was exhilarating to sneak in and roam the empty buildings. I completely understand the allure of forgotten catacombs beneath a major city.

The Dark Tower Lives Again

Dark Tower band of WarriorsNow this is really cool: Dark Tower Flash Game – Version 2.1. I had the original Dark Tower board game 23 years ago, and I burnt through a lot of D batteries playing it. I don’t know whatever happened to that game, it probably got passed on to a nephew or something. Wish I still had since they seem to be going for ~ $200 on eBay for a mint condition game. And it turns out Milton Bradley stole the idea from a couple game inventors in 1981. They sued and were awarded over $700,000 in compensation for lost royalties.

Dark Tower CursedWhile I don’t have Dark Tower anymore, at least I can play the game in Flash again, and that’s cool. The whole game is emulated, from moving the pieces around the board to the tinny synthesized sounds the Dark Tower emitted during play. Nice job – and it doesn’t suck up D batteries like the original did.

The Well of Souls website on the Dark Tower game is particularly interesting and full of interesting facts. Not only does it describe the gameplay, the pieces used and the events that can happen, it includes a bit on the artist that did the illustrations for the game. His name is Bob Pepper, and he gave a little interview for the web site, talking about the artwork Dark Tower game, his career, who he created the luminous quality in his illustrations and the one other game that he worked on, Dragonmaster.

Dark Tower DragonNow, I had the Dragonmaster game as well. It was a card game, also from Milton Bradley, that I picked up in a bargain bin after the New Year at Famous & Barr in 1982. The game itself was not very interesting, sort of like Hearts, but with fewer cards and stupid plastic jewels to keep score with. The real gem is this game was the artwork on the cards. Four suits, four different royal families of eight ranks, each with a distinct portrait. I never knew who the illustrator was until today, but I could tell it was the same person who worked on Dark Tower. Dark Tower WarriorAnd the artwork was beautiful on those cards. Absolutely luminous. The backstory to the game and those cards inspired me. I wove intricate stories about the characters depicted on those cards; I drew up maps, chronologies and legends, and hashed out storylines for books. I filled notebooks with ideas and jottings. Imagine my surprise when I read the interview with Mr. Pepper and discovered he did the exact same thing when he was creating the artwork.

Dark Tower PlagueAnd yes, I was a fantasy geek around that time. I read Tolkien’s books like clockwork every year, and supplemented my fantasy diet with other works. Surprisingly I was never really in Dungeons & Dragons, even though that was the heyday of D&D. I tried it a couple times and thought it sucked. I had a D&D game for my Intellivision that was lots of fun though, and I did spend inordinate amounts of time collecting and painting these little lead figurines though. I wonder whatever became of those things?

Three Days Of APOD

The Astronomy Picture of the Day is one of my favorite websites, I try to check it every day. The last three days were just beautiful though.

  1. September 9 Sagittarius Triplet: Stunning picture of the NGC 6559, the Lagoon Nebula, and the Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius.
  2. September 10 Cat’s Eye: Breathtaking Hubble image of the Cat’s Eye nebula. The complexity of the nebula is fascinating. I made this is my new desktop image, I liked it so much.
  3. September 11 The Star Trails of Kilimanjaro: Cool time lapse photograph taken on Mount Kilimanjaro. The stars wheel across the sky, the tents are illuminated from within by flashlights, and the eerie green glow of civilization filters up through the clouds.

Shave And A Haircut

Buzz Cut! Cut my hair off this morning. I refuse to pay $20 to have a ‘stylist’ cut my hair, so I cut it myself. It’s nothing fancy, snap the #2 guard on the hair clipper and shear the hair off. After the major clipping is done, remove the guard and do some trimming around the ears and the back of the neck. Twenty minutes tops, and I don’t need another haircut for two or three months. I even trimmed back the beard to the same length. I look like a fat Marine now.

It’s quite a change from last week. I don’t really like my hair this short, but what the hell. In two weeks it will be okay. And yes, that’s my Mauna Loa towel draped over the bathroom door.

The weather’s been excellent for the last few days. Bright, breezy, and sunny. Often the heat builds in the afternoon and an isolated storm develops. Kind of like this one over Talofofo this afternoon.

Storm clouds billow over Talofofo

I took that photo about an hour ago, and the storms only gotten bigger. It moved further to the southwest, out over the ocean. But it is a big thunderhead. I can hear the occasional low rumble of distant thunder even now.

Underground Lair Discover In Paris Cavern

French police on a training mission in Paris’ vast underground network of sewers, tunnels and catacombs stumbled upon an underground lair, complete with a cinema, a fully stocked bar, and a lounge. The entire place was wired for electricity and telephones. When police returned a couple days later with utility employees to trace the power and phone lines, they discovered the place had been cleaned out and the power lines cut; the whole place was abandoned. A note was found lying in the middle of the floor: “Do not,” it said, “try to find us.”

Ooh, they stumbled on some sort of secret society, a la The Da Vinci Code or something. The poor Rosicrucians had to go find a new playhouse.

A Jolly Good Idea

Wired News: Bacteria Turn Toxins Into Plastic

Irish scientists have isolated a bacterium that can convert toxic waste from the creation of styrofoam in a biodegradable plastic. The bacteria convert styrene into polyhdroxyalkanoate. This bacteria could remove 55 million pounds of toxic waste produced in the U.S. every year, and turn it into a useful end product. Excellent.

Thud

Genesis crashes to EarthThe best laid plans of mice and men.

Genesis Space Capsule Crashes in Utah – Apparently the explosive charges to deploy the parachute failed to fire and the return capsule hurtled into the Utah desert. Initial reports indicate that the capsule was broken open and the return samples were damaged as well. So much for opening the capsule in a sealed clean room and examining pristine solar particles.

NASA was hoping to snag this return capsule while it was still airborne. Hollywood stunts pilots were mobilized and in the air, but there was never any chance to snare the probe.

Palau Looks To Oil Drilling

“Hmmm, this place is one of the wonders of the world. What do you say we drill for oil here?”

No, it’s not the ANWR, it’s Palau. In one of the stranger things I’ve read in the newspaper lately, yesterday’s PDN contained a long story about how the government of Palau is considering drilling for oil in the waters surrounding the country. I would take a long hard look at allowing this to occur in Palau. And Palauan president Tommy Remengasau sent the legislation authorizing this drilling back to the Olbiil, expressing concerns with the bill and its environmental ramifications. The ocean and reefs around Palau is the lifeblood of the islands, and messing around with oil drilling is just asking for trouble. An editorial today also advises caution.