Towse: views from the hill

January 25, 2007

Images … around town

Filed under: photographs,San Francisco — Towse @ 6:31 am

The QE2 was in town today.

I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t read

His nibs said, ya, he knew. He just didn’t know when she was going to arrive.

We heard the departure klaxon loud blast (who knew that Klaxon was an existing trademark?) blare at 9p and thought the QE2 was heading out of town.

Being in the midst of eating dinner, we paid it no nevermind.

The klaxon loud blast blared again at 10p and his nibs headed up to the deck to see what he could see.

He called me upstairs and I tried to take pictures. Note the long bow on this ship. Talk about retro!


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What you don’t see is the phalanx (well, not really. We’re talking four boats max.) of coast guard boats blocking anyone from coming through while the QE2 backs out from her berth. I imagine there was a similar phalanx on the other side of the ship.

I just couldn’t get a good, un-jiggled picture. My Coolpix 5600 is a way good camera, but it’s not set up for certain things. For this picture I used the “museum” special setting. The “night” setting just didn’t cut it.

Also seen about town, a night or three ago, a very sharp car (Tennessee Highway Patrol in that STAR on the door) down at the bottom of the Montgomery Steps at Green.


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Earthquakes? Aliens? Or something else?

Filed under: quakes,woowoo — Towse @ 12:09 am

We’ve had a couple shakes recently including a 4.4 off the coast in far north California, along the Mendocino fault.

I thought I felt another one. So I clicked on my handydandy USGS map and nada.

I pulled up the larger look and … What’s that over there in Nevada? A 4.1? Followed by a flurry of aftershocks? Those are good shakes for an area where nothing ever happens, in an area where the nearest fault (the Furnace Creek Fault) is twenty-five miles or so away.

“Look at that,” I said. “Weird.”

His nibs looked over my shoulder.

“How close is that to Area 51?” he asked.

… or the Tonopah Test Range, for that matter.

Pull up the earthquake-Nevada map side by side with the Area 51 map.

Line them up. See what I see?

Those earthquakes (a 4.1, 3.2, 2.9, 2.6 &c., all clocking in at approximately 4 miles underground) are clustered off Hwy 95 between Goldfield and Scotty’s Junction.

Close enough to spit on the end of the Nellis Air Force Range in Nye County, NV.

What’s going on?

Art Bell and George Noory need a headsup, wouldn’t you say?

January 24, 2007

Updated business/submission links at Internet Resources for Writers

Filed under: internet resources for writers,URL,writing — Towse @ 11:05 pm

News from Internet Resources for Writers:

Checked and updated all links on Business/Submissions.

The page includes subsections:

  • Grants, Prizes, & Contests – lists
  • Markets – market listing resources on the Web
  • Scams – known scams and how to avoid them
  • Submitting – information on manuscript formats, queries, writing a synopsis and more.

I also added a separate header for our Miss Snark’s blog.

Occurs to me that at some point I need to port all the content over to a CSS-driven revamped site.


Not today.

[URL] Making of America – 19th c primary sources

Filed under: books,history,information,URL — Towse @ 8:52 pm

Making of America — 19th c primary sources (and some 20th c too)

Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints. For more details about the project, see About MoA.

Amazing collection of stuff.

I was wandering around today trying to see if I could find some written context for “The man who doesn’t read books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them” (and variations), attributed to Mark Twain — a discussion that popped up yesterday on Project Wombat (formerly, the Stumpers list).

I never did find confirmation or attribution for the alleged Twain quote, but I did find an essay — patronizing to say the least — explaining to the dear little women what sorts of books they should be asking for their husband’s permission to buy and read: a six-page article titled, “Reading,” by L.L. Hamline, found in “The Ladies’ repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion.”

Whoo boy.

With the thousands of books and thousands of articles the MOA folks have scanned and continued to scan, you could spend a long while in these archives.

Maneuverability is good. The search is FAST and can be simple, Boolean, &c. MOA pulls up matches giving title &c. and number of pages your search terms are on. You can wend through the pages of a given work or ask for those specific pages within the work that have your search term(s).

The app doesn’t highlight the found word on the page, which is unfortunate when you have a dense page filled with tiny print.

Interesting stuff. A peek into where we’ve come from.

January 23, 2007

RIP Barbara Seranella (1956-2007)

Filed under: writers — Tags: , — Towse @ 6:04 pm

Received a note from my SinCNorCal cohort with word that Barbara Seranella died Sunday while awaiting a liver transplant.

Sad news for those who’d known her.

More information at her site.

Life’s too short for some. This is, as one of her titles said, an unacceptable death.

Less than three weeks ago, I blogged that her New Year’s message showed such spirit.

We all had hoped …

January 19, 2007

Racism? Or Jealousy and Envy? Or Just Showmanship?

Filed under: life,media,people — Towse @ 5:46 pm

For those who aren’t living under a rock (hey, even I know about this and I haven’t had the TV on since … oh, about October), there’s a brou going on over at Celebrity Big Brother (over 38K protests already logged) about the interactions between some of the other contestants and Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood movie star.

The long time sponsor, Carphone Warehouse, has canceled their sponsorship. Tempers run high, and so do the viewer stats.

I finally clicked over to YouTube this morning to check out some clips of what’s been happening.

The Economist has what I think is probably the right take on the situation.

The crap these people are throwing at Shilpa Shetty is less about racism (although the bullies do pick on Shetty’s Indian face and clothes and cooking and what-all because they think that’s where she’s vulnerable) and more about the fact that Shetty is beautiful, poised, well-spoken, well-off and in all ways a success, a celebrity in her own right.

The contrast between her circumstances and those of her bulliers is striking.

They’re jealous. They’re eaten up with envy. They are showing the world less what is wrong with Shetty and her Indian background and more about what is inherently wrong with them. The more they beat up on Shetty and the more grace she shows, the less she breaks down because of the verbal battering, the more infuriated they become.

What a bunch of jerks.

Shetty is grace under pressure, a lot of pressure. She’ll come out of this with her halo intact, nay even polished. Perhaps her grace is a form of passive aggression, perhaps she’s classy because she knows it drives them nuts.

Maybe so, but the others? They simply come across as jealous lusers. Bullies. Cretins. Crap.

My take.

Or is it all just theater? The Age comes through with a different slant.

As feminist Germaine Greer, who appeared in a previous Big Brother, argued in The Guardian, Shetty is “a very good actress”. “Everything about (Shetty) is infuriating,” Greer said. “Everyone hates her because she wants them to. The problem is that most of the housemates are too dim to convey what a pain in the arse Shilpa is without appearing to persecute her.”

Some papers are calling Greer’s commentary a defense of Shetty.

You think? I don’t. I don’t think Germaine Greer much likes Shetty either.


We now return you to things that matter.

RIP Robert Anton Wilson

Filed under: SFF,writers — Tags: — Towse @ 6:32 am

RIP Robert Anton Wilson

[via pnh at Making Light]

January 18, 2007

[BLOG] This Thing of Ours and THE TOP TEN: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

Filed under: blog,books — Towse @ 2:24 am

For those of you who don’t read This Thing of Ours, you should! you should! The blog is subtitled: The reading community is small, despised by all, and ever threatened with extinction. New members always welcome!

A post today begins,

What do you get when 125 of today’s writers are asked to nominate their best books of all time? The answer is, something like the unwieldy 544-title list included in The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, on sale now.

I took a stab at my Top Ten and came up with

REBECCA = Daphne DuMaurier
THE BIG SLEEP and/or THE LONG GOODBYE = Raymond Chandler
SCARAMOUCHE = Rafael Sabatini
CATCH-22 = Joseph Heller
SIDDHARTHA = Hermann Hesse
ETHAN FROME = Edith Wharton

… and then I had to stop because I ran out of slots. But what about PRIDE AND PREJUDICE or COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO? JANE EYRE? WUTHERING HEIGHTS? THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN/THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE? BLACK BEAUTY? (the first “real” book I ever read, so dear to my heart.) some Wodehouse, some Ngaio Marsh, some Josephine Tey (DAUGHTER OF TIME would make the list.)

There’s a bit more to the comments I left there, but that’s enough for here and now.

January 17, 2007

Important stuff! Where was the burger born?

Filed under: factoid,misc — Towse @ 7:31 am

Burger Brawl: Texas Rep Claims Burger Birthplace: Was the burger born in Athens, TX, or New Haven, CT?

New Haven weighs in.

Another paper weighs in.

DeStefano notes that New Haven has been a cradle of creativity, as the birthplace of the cotton gin, the first rubber tires, the corkscrew, the Frisbee, lollipops, Erector Sets and pizza.

Methinks it’s time to check those bonafides.

The Frisbee? Lollipops? Hard to believe.

(Someone invented the hamburger? That’s hard to believe too.)


Filed under: blog,URL,writing — Towse @ 6:05 am

Christopher Lockhart, Executive Story Editor at ICM has a blog called THE INSIDE PITCH: a Hollywood Executive answers questions from screenwriters.

What applies to screenwriters can also apply to writers.

Take a look-see, if screenwriting or fiction writing be your smack.

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