Tommyjournal  archive    June 2005

Wednesday  06.29.05

A sampling of search keywords that led people to Tommyjournal pages this month:
  • graffiti coition
  • amr mohsen
  • skinny dipping story
  • "osb furniture"
  • toss a coin sign gay
  • vining and losing testosterone
  • how many guys have tasted their own cum
  • "fi ligature"
I used to have reservations about getting search engine referrals, but now I like 'em. I get some readers who were probably looking for something else, but that's just part of the game. It reminds me of what happens when you look up a word in a dictionary: you often end up reading the definition of some other word that catches your eye. Which reminds me of a story I like to tell--

When I was a teenager, I stumbled across Gresham's Law in a dictionary, read the definition, thought "hmmm, interesting" and closed the book. Problem was, although I remembered the gist of the law, I forgot whose law it was. I went to my Dad and had a conversation like this:

TommyI just came across so-and-so's law in the dictionary, but I can't remember the name.
Dad:Gresham's Law.
TommyHow did you do that?

Tuesday  06.28.05

Some musicians have inspired me not just through their music but also through their words and their lives. Frank Zappa, for example. A few quotes and remembrances won't do justice to the impression Zappa has made on me, but here goes:

"There was no time to worry if people 'got it.' The guy made 40 albums and was working on 40 more. And you never saw Frank read a review and go, 'Gee, that son of a bitch!' He'd say, 'What's for breakfast?'" -Mark Volman

Interviewer:  When Freak Out came out, the thing that seemed to jar everybody was its sense of humor.
Zappa:Look, I'm an honest person, and I try to keep a certain kind of integrity in the work that I do. If I have a sense of humor, I'm not going to subdue it in order to make myself more acceptable.

"Because I wanted to." (Zappa's response to being asked by Jay Leno on the Tonight Show why he gave his children such unusual names)

Any composition (or improvisation) which remains consonant and 'regular' throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only 'good guys' in it, or eating cottage cheese. -FZ

Sunday  06.26.05

Images from a controversial French safe-sex ad campaign:
scorpion congress
The ads include the text Sans préservatif, c'est le sida avec que vous faites l'amour. Protéger-vous. (Without a condom, you're making love to AIDS. Protect yourself.) The uncropped ads can be seen here, and more info about them is available here.

I find these ads fascinating. How many images do you come across that are at once disturbing, erotic, and whimsical?

The contrast between the domestic settings with white walls/curtains/sheets/sofa and the ominous black critters is striking. The scenes are lit beautifully. I can appreciate the concerns that people had about the appropriateness and/or effectiveness of the approach, but I'm impressed by the attention to detail in the photos.

Safe-sex (or anti-unsafe-sex) campaigns touch on a broader issue: the question of how to encourage safety. Nowadays, pretty much every rock climbing magazine or guidebook includes a warning notice; many of them are quite blunt, e.g. "rock climbing is inherently dangerous". One guidebook on my shelf has a photo showing a litter being used to lower an injured climber, to get your attention in case the textual warning isn't strong enough.

One skydiving facility has chosen a wording that doesn't use the word "danger" but gets the message across (with a touch of dry humor):
Is skydiving safe?   We work very hard to make your skydive as safe as it can be. That being said, please do not lose sight of the fact that you are jumping out of an airplane.
Speaking of danger: by posting these photos here, I may technically be risking running afoul of 18 U.S.C. §2257, which (as of June 23) is expanded to require records of proof of age of models in erotic images on web pages. It is my sincere hope that law enforcement agencies have better things to do than get upset about a few pics of adult humans engaging in simulated consensual sexual congress with scaled-up models of arachnids in the interest of promoting safe sex.

Saturday  06.25.05

I had more double standards when I was younger. I'm not claiming to be totally free of them now that I'm in my 40s, but there are things that I don't do anymore.

I used to modify outdoor advertising; I changed the wording on billboards and bus shelter ads. I knew it was vandalism, but I justified it to myself by saying that the offense against the advertisers was outweighed by the entertainment value I was offering to the public. I also thought that (some) advertising was insidious and demeaning, and there was value in countering the pretension and crassness of (some) advertising. I took special pleasure in modifying cigarette ads. I once changed the text on a Marlboro billboard from "Come to where the flavor is" to "Come is where the flavor is" and make it look like a drop of white semi-fluid was on the lip of the Marlboro Man.

Some people approved. A few of my advertising enhancement operations were written about in local newspapers, sometimes with praise from people who got the point of what I was doing.

When is civil disobedience OK? Can you engage in civil disobedience and then have a leg to stand on if, at some time, you want the police to protect you from someone else who sees fit to break the law? Interesting questions, and I don't claim to have the final answers. But I can say that with time, I have come to respect more laws than I used to.

I haven't done a billboard modification job in years; part of it is a less cavalier attitude about the consequences of being caught, part of it is more respect for the property of others (even those I disagree with), and part of it is not being as inclined to stay up all night (I usually did the work after midnight, and it induced enough adrenaline in my system to keep me awake for a while). And there just aren't many billboards where I live now. The only billboards here are on sections of US 395 that run through indian reservations. Most of the length of 395 in the Owens Valley runs through property owned by the city of Los Angeles, and they don't put up billboards here.

I'm also inclined to respect the law more because I don't want to be hypocritical when I take stands about matters of double standards and justice. I am following with interest the news of an Italian court ordering the arrest of 13 CIA agents. If you haven't heard the story: Italy took a dim view of the CIA abducting a man in their country in 2003 so he could be handed over to Egypt, where he is said to have been tortured. Italy already had the suspect under surveillance and was pursuing a criminal case against him, but the CIA evidently took the matter into its own hands. An Italian prosecutor said
I feel the international community must struggle against terrorism and international terrorist groups in accordance with international laws and the rights of the defendant. Otherwise, we are giving victory to the terrorists.
I haven't yet seen any comment on this affair in any of the politically-minded blogs I read, nor has the USA made any public comment that I'm aware of. I hope this case gets more attention.

Saturday  06.11.05

From an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
caution Caltrans posted several of these signs along San Diego freeways beginning in 1990, when the city was a funnel for undocumented immigrants headed north. The signs were intended to warn drivers they might encounter people frantically darting across lanes of traffic as they tried to evade border security.

Dozens of immigrants were struck and killed from the mid-1980s to early 1990s, some in front of horrified family members, as stunned drivers failed to stop in time.

The freeway deaths ended long ago, but the signs remain. And, in the intervening years, the silhouetted image has quietly taken on a life of its own.
I remember seeing these signs ten or so years ago. My friend Beowulf had described them as saying "road slippery when covered with illegal immigrants". (Beowulf's sense of humor could be too black for some people's taste.)

I don't mean to make light of the situation; immigration is a complicated and serious matter. But the complexity of the issue didn't stop a well-known blogger from dismissing the signs with this comment:
It's not like I want illegal immigrants to be run down on the highway, but isn't this a bit ridiculous?
I wrote to the blogger in question, and he wrote back to explain
What I thought was ridiculous is that illegal immigration has become so commonplace and so routinized that they put up signs warning drivers to dodge people crossing the highway, instead of making a serious effort to control the border.
The "they" who put up the signs is the California Department of Transportation--which was only trying to deal with a real problem (dozens of unauthorized immigrants were being killed on freeways). Caltrans is not charged with the job of controlling the border.

Should the USA build a tall concrete barrier nearly 2000 miles long? I think it trivializes the issue to say it's "ridiculous" that "they" haven't just controlled the border.

I read that blog because I try to pay attention to what commentators on both sides of the (political) aisle are saying. But I've been having a hard time finding rightie blogs that are thoughtful and insightful; if anyone can suggest some, please let me know.

Update: if you don't understand why I see Power Line as a lightweight blog, driven more by blind ideology than by careful thought, consider this recent entry. If you still don't understand, write to me and I'll explain.

Saturday  06.04.05

About two years ago, I wrote that
most of the referrals my journal pages get from search engines have something to do with (yup, you guessed it) sex.
I still get sex-related hits. A week ago today, someone searched (with Yahoo) for coition films and was referred to an entry where I'd posted capsule reviews of a bunch of Alfred Hitchcock films (one of which included the word coition).

That made me curious to see where that entry stood in Google's page rank, so I Googled (not Yahooed, as the reader had done a week ago) for coition films, and Tommyjournal was nowhere to be found. Google doesn't index that fucking page any more. Google is now indexing only about 1 in every 5 pages in the Tommyjournal archives. It's not that they don't know about all of my pages; I have server logs that show Google having retrieved them recently. Google just doesn't deign to index them any more.

If Google's index of this site is that incomplete, I imagine that's probably the case for other sites as well.

Friday  06.03.05

I like PostSecret.
A sample anonymous secret from their site:
PostSecret sample
      (image posted by permission)

Personal secrets remind me of a quote from Mark Twain:
Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
which in turn reminds me of these lines from Pink Floyd:
There is no dark side of the moon really.
As a matter of fact it's all dark.

Thursday  06.02.05

If you saw Napoleon Dynamite, I recommend you read the resolution regarding the film that was passed by the Idaho House of Representatives. Excerpts:
    WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's most famous export; and

    WHEREAS, Kip and LaFawnduh's wedding shows Idaho's commitment to healthy marriages; and

    WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and

    WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of Their Lives!"

From today's Los Angeles Times:
U.S. officials and Iraqi analysts say the insurgents' resources are increasing on several fronts: money to buy cars and explosives, expertise in wiring car and human bombs, and intelligence leaks that help the insurgents target U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Suicide attacks are on the rise because the explosive devices "are simple to construct and easy to operate, thus making suicide bombers difficult to detect," said Navy Cmdr. Fred Gaghan, in charge of the Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell in Iraq, which studies bomb scenes for clues to insurgent tactics.

"At this time, there is nothing to indicate that the availability of volunteers is on the decline," he said, noting the media coverage and videos of suicide bombings posted on the Internet that fuel extremist recruitment.

But...! Not to worry:
The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
-Vice President Dick Cheney, May 30, 2005

The same Dick Cheney told us last October
They will do everything they can to disrupt the process up to those elections in January because they know that once you've got a democratically elected government in place that has legitimacy in the eyes of the people of Iraq, they're out of business. That will be the end of the insurgency. We intercepted a message from Zarqawi sent to some of the senior folks at the al Qaeda organization saying precisely that.
(all italics mine.)

Wednesday  06.01.05

A few people live several miles up a dirt road near my neighborhood. They have no utilities and no mail delivery. They are close enough to the forest that bears and deer come to visit. I once saw a snake climb one of their trees, wrapped helically around the trunk--but I digress.

One of the residents has evidently taken the liberty of assigning their property a house number, to wit: 1. Theirs is the first house to be encountered on the (dead end) road.

Upon discovering this, another resident wasn't pleased; they thought their property--at the end of the road--should be number 1.

What I wanna know is, does anyone in the world have a house number 0? [update: yes. (thanks, Sasha)]

 related pages

current journal

Tommyjournal FAQ

Tommy email

Tommy home page