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Ojai Orange | The Column of Lasting Insignificance | Books | Wait-A-Minute

January 19, 2008
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 


January 19, 2008

      “If you program robots with all the knowledge of sexual technique, love-making skills that are in the Kama Sutra and every sex guide ever written, they would know everything. And they would be able to do everything that the most proficient human lovers can do”—from David Levy’s Love + Sex With Robots to be published in May.

RECHARGING BATTERIES may become a thing of the past if the gigantic French Bic company proceeds with its design for portable fuel cells. For a company that fills millions of cartridges each day for butane lighters (not to mention 10 million razors and pens) fuel cells—which create a current via chemical reaction—seem a natural development. “An important strategic initiative” is how it’s described by Bic CEO Mario Guevara whose distribution spreads to three million outlets in 160 countries.

THE SWITCH TO corn-based ethanol has been described as “about as smart as switching from heroin to crystal meth" writes Richard Conniff in a Smithsonian piece amusingly titled Who’s Fueling Whom? Referring to an article in Foreign Affairs he points out that growing corn requires large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides and fuel as well as making us dependent on a crop vulnerable to drought and disease. Its already well known that making ethanol from corn requires almost as much energy as it produces, in contrast to sugar which is much more efficient. Almost willfully stupid, the US places a tariff on Brazilian ethanol (made from sugar) thus making it uncompetitive. And already the vast subsidies given to corn-growers has doubled the price of corn—causing riots in Mexico. It’s unlikely that Congress, long weaned on bribes from agribusiness, will take a longer view. Ethanol made from cellulose—such as cornstalks instead of the kernel—makes even more sense both economically and ecologically but, says the University of Minnesota’s C. Ford Runge, “corn and soybean interests haven’t spent 30 years paying campaign bills for national politicians to give the game away to grass”.

THE TRENDY PINKBERRY stores, which already have 34 outlets in Los Angeles and New York, plan to move into Las Vegas and London this year. Fast Company suggests that the yoghurt chain’s success is largely due to its image as a design brand with its $500 Philippe Starck chairs. ”It ties into the larger consumer trend of wanting to pay a premium for experiences as opposed to products” fashion editor Orli Sharaby told the magazine.

AN ECHO OF the moonshine days when thousands of illegal stills were operating is the current fad for home-distilling which has been described as “the gourmet-fication of America”. Already, reports the American Distilling Institute, almost 100 craft-sized pot stills are turning out bourbon, gin and rum and the number is growing. It’s not likely the numbers will approach the thousands that were operating right after Prohibition, nor that their weekly output will approach the output of the big companies (Smirnoff, for example, produces 25 million cases a year) but, says one craftsman, “we are part of the pendulum swing in America to artisan food and drinks”.

CRIME RATES HAVE BEEN declining since the Nineties but the prison population continues to rise with 1.5 million in federal prisons at present and an estimated 190,000 to be added within the next few years. James Austin is president of JFA, a criminal research group whose recent report is critical of prison sentences for trivial offenses. A former British Home Secretary Douglas Hurd says ”Prison is a very expensive way of making bad people worse”.

THE FIRST MODELS of the new Tesla electric car go on sale ($98,000 each) next week just as Tesla Motors chairman, Elon Musk, 36, is on Inc. magazine’s cover as “Entrepreneur of the year”. The designation is at least partly because, in addition to the automobile company, Musk is also chairman of Solar City (installer of solar panels) and CEO of Space X, an aero space firm that by 2011 plans to be ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station. South African-born Musk, founder of PayPal which he sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, says: “The U.S. is where great things are possible”.

THE WILCOCK WEB: This month, Washington state will be the first to implant radio-frequency chips in drivers’ licenses in an experimental plan to speed border crossings….Chinese contemporary art is selling for millions of dollars, propelled by increased collecting by adman Charles Saatchi who’s usually ahead of the pack….And there’s a growing demand for Iranian art following the $601,000 sale of Farhad Moshiri’s crystal- studded map of the world…. Considering how un-amusing New Yorker cartoons are, you’ve got to have sympathy for University of Michigan students who are apparently being taught a course in humor by the magazine’s cartoon editor,  Bob Mankoff….Good comedy is never frivolous. It’s based on human experience, on human adventure, on human feelings. So it has to be profound” observes Mel Brooks…..A letter in The Week suggests that some of Britain’s rural post offices threatened with closure, should rent space in local churches which are usually empty…. Sue Grafton, whose 20th novel T is for Trespass is just out, says her career began  when she didn’t have the money to fight a bitter divorce. She’d lie awake at night “and think of ways to kill him. But I knew I’d get caught so I decided to put it in a book and get paid for it”…. “There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters” goes the old saw, “but no old, bold mushroom hunters”….. Simple magic tricks such as how to make a quarter disappear and how to bend a spoon are explained along with hundreds of other things at WikiHow….Contradicting the notion that the 14,000-strong Starbucks chain is putting mom-and-pop coffee houses out of business, Taylor Clark’s book about the company says there were 585 coffee houses in the U.S. 20 years ago and now there are 24,000 (10,000 of them Starbucks)…. Technology is the knack of organizing the world so that we don’t have to experience it—Max Frisch (1911-91)

1/12/08

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