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09.29.2003

Best Practices for Time Travelers

When John Titor first showed up on IRC chat in October of 2000, he was enjoying a neat kind of double billing - as his 38-year-old self sat downstairs in the kitchen, typing away, a two-year-old version of himself lay sound asleep upstairs in bed. The elder Titor had been sent back in time by the U.S. Army, which n…

09.28.2003

Show Me Your Tears

I finally got my copy of Show Me Your Tears, the new album from Frank Black and the Catholics, and have been enjoying it very much. I'm trying to come up with a description that isn't useless. Show Me Your Tears album cover

You might call it Frank Black's Nashville Skyline - a countr…

09.27.2003

I Gave All I Had (But the Sudbury Fun Run Wanted More)

Today was my second running of the region's premier track event, where athletes from the furthest reaches of Addison and Rutland counties gather to answer the question: who will be fastest?

The answer: it will not be me.

Covering ten grueling kilometers of gently rolling Vermont farmland, the Fun Run demands the utmost in rudimentary physical fitness. Some people in past years hav…

09.26.2003

Ohio In Passing

The Cincinnati Airport is full of small adventures. I just saw a very bored flight attendant saunter by holding a cardboard box with a large orange sticker on it reading "Human Eyes". Note to Delta Connection passengers: skip in-flight snack.

Also, there are Russians here! More specifically, there is Natalya from Nizhny Novgorod, who mans a forlorn muffin-and-coffee cart near …

09.25.2003

Celebrity Turing Test

In which a rock star visits his own forum, but neglects to bring a valid I.D.

Longtime readers will know I'm a big fan of Frank Black, the former Pixies frontman.

Like every other famous person, Frank Black has a fan site devoted to his comings and goings. With a new album out and a Pixies reunion just announced for 2005, the site ( 09.25.2003

In The Old Dominion

Holy Toledo, the better half is eating dinner with our former governor! Let's just hope he's no Bill Clinton. I hope Mrs. Dean is watching with the eagle eye.

Me, I'm in Virginia, a place so wonderful it completely defeats my prose. The traffic isn't so admirable, but everything else about Charlottesville I like, from the gr…

09.25.2003

Edward Said Has Died

The great Columbia professor Edward Said is dead. Steven Johnson has an appreciation.

I knew nothing about Said except what I read in his essays, other than noticing that he came in for a lot of political flak. One of his pieces is 09.22.2003

Virginia Or Bust

Electronic friends, virtual neighbors!

I'm going to be in Charlottesville for the next two days (24 and 25 September), and I'm extending the usual invitation to anyone who would like to have a pint or a Virginia ham together. If you can help me find a certain local Virginia beer called 'Legend', the Rolls-Royce of malt beverages, all the drinks will be on me.

Send 09.18.2003

Quebecois Bloggers Respond

I got kind letters in response to last night's post from two Quebec bloggers, Aaron Cope and Martine Page, both of whom help put the episode in a wider context. In return for their generosity, they're about to be hit by the remains of Hurricane Isabel, currently northbound through Vermont and whippin…

09.18.2003

Your Canadian Tax Dollars at Work

[In a fit of irony, Idle Words is having Unicode problems, and will be ASCII only for the next several days. Please don't take any missing accents personally]

Laurent at navire.net alerts us to a microscandal at Quebec Urbain, a French-language blog…

09.16.2003

Link Fiesta

Don't fill up on bread, because today I have a tasty assortment of links. My fellow idler is much more proficient and reliable at this sort of thing, but we all have to do our part. A workweek is a long, empty, cavernous thing.

First up is Uber Wench, whose BDSM site will suddenly make all …

09.13.2003

Mom's Tomato Garden, Red in Tooth and Claw

I've spent the past two days at my mother's house, right on the ocean in the middle coast of Maine, enjoying the last of the summer. There is some very fancy flora and fauna here. The lower part of the garden is overrun by jewelweed, which has an unusual degree of entertainment value for a plant. Jewelweed …

09.13.2003

Meet Me Far Away From Here (And We'll Write a Mission Statement)

The arctic tern amazes biologists with the sheer extravagance of its migration route. In a single year, the bird is liable to fly over 20,000 miles, from Arctica to Antarctica and back. No one can explain why the bird is such an avid commuter. Similarly, no one can explain why my co-workers, nearly all of whom work in the same b…

09.10.2003

We're Not At War

Let's be clear about it. The Canadian threat is under control. Mexico is still licking its wounds from the last time they got in our way. European armies, no matter how irked, will have a hard time managing the Atlantic crossing. The imminent threat from Iraq has been neutralized, in the nick of time. The War on Terror, just like the War on Drugs, is a rhetorical device. Terrorism is …

09.10.2003

Two Months Before the New York Marathon

Driving down to Boston yesterday, I came up with a new personal credo: "Never drive for four hours after a fifteen mile run". My leg kept cramping up in the locked and down position, jamming itself against the accelerator for minutes at a time. Thank God I was driving a Saturn - the car that will not accelerate past seventy fiveâ„¢.

I got up for that long run long before dawn, not…

09.09.2003

The World Just Got A Little Less Evil

Edward Teller is dead. Here's hoping the fires of hell are thermonuclear.…

09.08.2003

Live in Boston - One Night Only

Tomorrow I will be in Boston for a visit with Cameron Marlow, the mastermind behind Blogdex. We will be racking our brains to figure out how to count all of you fine bloggers and have the number bear some relationship to reality.

A visit to Boston necessarily implies a dinner at 09.07.2003

Comment Withheld

"Iraq possesses more than 10 tons of uranium and more than a ton of low enriched uranium. Small facilities are capable of handling these amounts, and, even taking into account process losses, there is still enough uranium to make three nuclear weapons. Iraq has already designated a site for nuclear weapon testing and if intelligence estimates are correct the first tests could happen by 2005." …

09.06.2003

The Ghost Blogs of Tibet

Jenny, 22 claims to lead an angst-filled life in the Arctic Ocean (80.46 N, 36.87 E), but she really lives near Winston-Salem (36.87 N, 80.46 W).

Musically inclined shepherds in the desolate highlands of Kachi, China, might be extremely excited to learn that it's only a short camel trek to 09.02.2003

The Threat of Flying Monkeys

Today's Washington Post issues a dire warning about cyberterrorism. Cyberterrorists are roaming the Internet [clang, clang], and your children could be at risk!

In the following excerpts, we've replaced the word 'cyberterrorism' with 'flying monkeys' - see if you can spot the difference!

09.02.2003

Comet Impact Extravaganza

Most of the fanciest supercomputer simulations ever run have been wasted on devoted to numerical modeling of nuclear explosions. Back in the Cold War days, using computers to design weapons meant that you could build smaller, cheaper, more versatile nukes without violating any pesky test ban treaties. When the Cold War ended, and blowing the bejesus out of things briefly fell out of …

Idle Words

brevity is for the weak








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The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
The story of America's most awesome infrastructure project.

Argentina on Two Steaks A Day
Eating the happiest cows in the world

Scott and Scurvy
Why did 19th century explorers forget the simple cure for scurvy?

No Evidence of Disease
A cancer story with an unfortunate complication.

Controlled Tango Into Terrain
Trying to learn how to dance in Argentina

Dabblers and Blowhards
Calling out Paul Graham for a silly essay about painting

Attacked By Thugs
Warsaw police hijinks

Dating Without Kundera
Practical alternatives to the Slavic Dave Matthews

A Rocket To Nowhere
A Space Shuttle rant

Best Practices For Time Travelers
The story of John Titor, visitor from the future

100 Years Of Turbulence
The Wright Brothers and the harmful effects of patent law


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