Saturday, May 09, 2009


Our pal Faux Smoke writes, “What's your take on all this e-reader/e-book business of late? Think it'll be the item that saves an industry, or just is all of this just a marketing tactic?" (Click here for a really dumb puff piece on the Kindle.)

My reply has to be that I don’t believe that the Kindle or any similar device will save book, newspaper, and magazine publishing as so many desperately hope. The e-book has never caught the public imagination and I feel it’s highly unlikely this will be changed, even by more evolved user-friendly hardware. The truth is that books have a special affinity for those who read them. They not only have a total functionality, but a unique warmth -- a smell even -- that cannot be replaced by a machine. A book also fills the very important need for collectable objects that reflect the owner’s tastes, ideas, and personality. In the necessary brevity of a blog, I can’t reason the case at the maybe needed length. All I can say is look to the rise of vinyl audio in the age the mp3 by way of a model.
Much of the problem in book publishing is rooted in the cowardice and stupidity that has increasingly gripped the mass publishing industry. Hundreds of viable authors have been dropped, while multi-million dollar advances were handed out to literary nonentities like Sarah’s Silverman and Palin (and OJ bloody Simpson.) The corporate thrust has been to sell books to the illiterate, avoiding the real truth that mass publishing (with the exception of the occasional big score like Harry Potter) is mutating into a highly plural, boutique business. Major publishers have also traditionally been the bankers of literature, who provide the capital so authors can write the books and -- like the actual banks -- they are now failing in that function.
Newspapers and magazines are also suffering from their own management failures, despite how much they bleat about being ruined by the internet. They have a huge internet readership but are unable to create a business model that can capitalize on it. They have done nothing to address the almost total loss of revenue from classified advertising caused by Craig’s List, and, worst of all, they have failed to cater to their loyal core of readers by dumbing down content, reducing it to sound-bite sized idiocy, and failing to recognize that city-centric papers are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. They cut the pay of the trivial, but lay off the profound.
I could go on for pages about all this, especially how I grieve for the destruction of the alternative press that I help to create forty-some years ago. Just take this as a first salvo to which we will have to return.
Faux Smoke ends his letter – “Hope for a sequel in the Renquist quartet sooner than later? Sooner? Please say the word is good... or tell me who I need to start sending death threats to.” My answer is that the word is currently not good. Another freak LA heat wave makes it hard to be an optimist and, as I sweat, I wonder if I am unemployable, if I’ll even survive. But, damn it, I continue to write. I’ll work on a list of worthy candidates for death threats.

The secret word is Evolution


You wanna read some Maureen Dowd while the New York Times is still around? Lately I’ve been kinda off Ms. Dowd. She’s been too much at odds with my beliefs and tastes, and feuding with people I tend to go along with, but this column is kinda fun. Click here


Supplied by Valerie. They call them Starbucks.


These are by the late lamented Edward Barker

Friday, May 08, 2009


Here at Doc40 we have a special affinity with crows. Dr. Crow is our logo, and crows rule the wildlife on the street where we live. I am well aware that they are expert tool-users, and have often noticed the local crow crew giving me a look that indicated the food chain might well be differently linked if the black birds only had opposable thumbs. Now Aeswiren sends us this report that confirms many of our suspicions and even a few of our paranoias.

"In the past, people thought birds were stupid," laments the aptly named scientist Christopher Bird. But in fact, some of our feathered friends are far cleverer than we might think. And one group in particular - the corvids - has astonished scientists with extraordinary feats of memory, an ability to employ complex social reasoning and, perhaps most strikingly, a remarkable aptitude for crafting and using tools.
Mr. Bird, who is based at the department of zoology at Cambridge University, says: "I would rate corvids as being as intelligent as primates in many ways."
The corvids - a group that includes crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays and magpies - contain some of the most social species of birds.”
(Click here for more and some fairly amazing videos)

The secret word is Tweet
The secret message is 54686520626972642069732074686520776f7264


Aboard the alien spacecraft, Uncle Bill reads his Manifesto to the Cosmos.


Thursday, May 07, 2009


In a new book, Van Goghs Ohr: Paul Gauguin und der Pakt des Schweigens (Van Gogh's ear: Paul Gauguin and The Pact of Silence), German scientists Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans tell the story of what happened when Vincent lost his ear Christmas Eve 1888 in the French city of Arles. According to the official version, the Dutch painter cut off his own ear with a razor after a row with Gauguin in 1888. Van Gogh then walked into a brothel and presented the severed ear to a prostitute called Rachel before going home to sleep. But, after ten years of research, the scientists say they are sure it was painter Paul Gauguin who cut off his friend and colleague's ear after a fight. (Click here for more)

The secret word is Slice

"But we're already dead, you dig? Now we can do any damn thing we like, and totally get away with it."

Pic lifted from Tom Sutpen

WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? (Leave those buffalo alone)

Another emergency message has come in from Francis at the NRDC…

“Right now, newborn wild bison -- better known as buffalo -- are grazing under their mothers' watchful eyes on the lush Horse Butte peninsula near Yellowstone National Park in Montana. But on May 15, this pastoral scene could turn ugly if the government begins hazing the buffalo back into the park with helicopters, horses and ATVs, as they did last year at this time. If this operation proceeds, some buffalo could die, including young calves and pregnant cows. Please speak out immediately to stop the government's annual hazing operation.This wildlife tragedy replays almost every year on Horse Butte -- a birthing ground for the buffalo. First, a helicopter invades the stillness, circling low to scare wild buffalo out of the woods, so that government agents on ATVs and horses can chase them back to Yellowstone. With no time to rest or nurse during this relentless chase, some calves collapse and even die of exhaustion before ever reaching their grazing grounds deep within the park. The saddest part? This senseless tragedy is unnecessary. The justification for hazing and killing buffalo is that they could spread the disease brucellosis to domestic cattle. That is why buffalo are generally not welcome outside Yellowstone Park in Montana -- and why thousands have been slaughtered or hazed back into the park in recent years. But the fact is, there has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from buffalo to cattle in the wild. More to the point, there are no cattle at all on Horse Butte, so there is absolutely no reason to haze and endanger Yellowstone's wild buffalo. So please, help us give newborn buffalo a better chance at survival this spring. As living links to the great herds that once thundered across America's plains, Yellowstone's buffalo are a national treasure. Please join me in urging our government to protect them -- instead of subjecting them to needless suffering. Tell the Secretary of Agriculture to intervene right away and prevent the hazing of wild buffalo in the weeks ahead.” Click here to register your protest.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


In which Marilyn, in a rare quiet moment, reflects on all that has been lost and the little that has been gained in the absurd and endless conflict between Apollonians and Dionysian, and how she had never wanted to be involved in the first place. With a grim and weary smile, she wonders how long she can confront the fray and the mountain of problems that are none of her making, and still operate in the fragmented disorientation of a non-linear multiverse, with its Howdy drops and wormholes, its glittering nothings and towering green Martians, its clear and constant dangers, its anomalies and paradoxes, its lost tribes and extinct species, its strings and complex membranes, idiot authorities and absence of orgasm, and its vast quadrants of damaged Earth realities, all plunging to the random and insectoid oblivion of the Nineteen Ways. Marilyn sighs deeply. Why does she even have to know about all this? Why is she even aware of the Nineteen Ways? She reaches for the Nembutal.

SPACE OPERA (Wanna buy a used Viper?)

NBC/Universal is auctioning an actual full size Mark VII Viper Raptor fighter ship used in Battlestar Galactica. Also up for sale? A full size Raptor that has a “full, functional interior with light-up panels and monitors throughout...” Or so reads eBay's enthusiastic description of the 30-foot ship. After 43 bids, the price was $28,100.00 -- but this didn't meet the auction's reserve, which means it's still up for grabs at a "live" auction beginning May 8 in Pasadena. (Click for more)

The secret word is Frack

The secret message 5365656b20796f7572206c6f7374207472696265

Monday, May 04, 2009


Today is something of a grab bag. Too much on my plate to pontificate or even imagine too hard. Munz sent this over, and, although I figure it’s more of a PR stunt than anything else (and also having certain reservations about the medical marijuana movement in that there are times when it seems as much a loophole for the well-heeled stoner as a step to recreational sanity) I’d post it anyway out of a general will to subversion.

“Cannabis Science Inc., an emerging pharmaceutical cannabis company, reported today on the current state of development of its whole-cannabis lozenge in response to Homeland Security Administration Secretary Janet Napolitano's declaration of a public health emergency to deal with the emerging Swine Flu pandemic. The Company's non-toxic lozenge has properties that could alleviate many of the symptoms and harmful effects of the H5N1 bird flu and H1N1 swine flu viruses, and has offered its assistance to HSA today in a letter to Secretary Napolitano. The Company has offered to produce up to 1 million doses of its whole-cannabis lozenge, and provide them to HSA for distribution at cost. Cannabis Science Inc., President & CEO, Steven W. Kubby said, "We have the science and preliminary anecdotal results confirming the anti-inflammatory properties of our new lozenges and indicating they may present an effective and non-toxic treatment for minimizing the symptoms and harm from influenza infections.” (Click here for more)

The secret word is Linkage

The secret message is 4120626f6f6b2069732061206c6f616465642067


Stephen Saban is my old time homeboy from the SoHo Weekly News. He’s now editing a website called World of Wonder. If you like New York-style style trivial gossip that comes at you like it was really fucking important just click here.

Valerie has also hooked me up with a blog called Violet Planet which is just about the diametric opposite to World of Wonder but should checked out by clicking here.


And finally Sea Urchin Ben has sent us the original 1970s trailer for Alejandro Jodorowski’s El Topo. Click here.


Sunday, May 03, 2009


Aeswiren sent us the following…

“Sara Watson, who is studying drawing at the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan), took three weeks to transform the car's appearance. She created the illusion in the car park outside her studio at Uclan's Hanover Building in Preston. The car is now being used for advertising by the local recycling firm that donated the vehicle. Ms Watson, a second year student, said: "I was experimenting with the whole concept of illusion but needed something a bit more physical to make a real impact." She was given the Skoda Fabia from the breaker's yard at local firm Recycling Lives. Owner Steve Jackson described her work as "amazing". "When I first saw the photos I was convinced it was something which had been done on the computer," said Mr Jackson. “But when you look more closely you see the effort and attention to detail she has put into it. It is just amazing."


Both Aeswiren and Valerie flagged this story of avian hepcats…

"People aren't the only ones who've got rhythm. Two reports published online on April 30th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveal that birds – and parrots in particular – can also bob their heads, tap their feet, and sway their bodies along to a musical beat. The findings show that a very basic aspect of the human response to music is shared with other species, according to the researchers. "We've discovered a cockatoo [named Snowball] that dances to the beat of human music," said Aniruddh Patel of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, lead author of one of the studies. "Using a controlled experiment, we've shown that if the music speeds up or slows down across a wide range, he adjusts the tempo of his dancing to stay synchronized to the beat." One of Snowball's favorite dancing tunes is none other than the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody." (Click here for more and click here for more plus videos)

The secret word is Cracker


“In space no one can hear you squeal.”

And if the above is too sexist for ya, click here for an ancient episode of Space Patrol sent by Wendy..