Remember the story of the towboat that got sucked under the bridge? It’s making the rounds again. I got two more emails just today pointing me at it. It is a great set of pictures. Since the pictures have been going around and around, I decided that there must be a good explanation of the whole story out there somewhere. I went Googling for a few minutes and was not disappointed. Here’s a great page explaining the whole sordid tale of the Motor Vessel Cahaba and its unhappy encounter with the Old Demopolis Bridge on April 28th, 1979. As related by Capt. Michael L. Smith: “Notice the picture where the boat is not quite righted and you can see water pouring out of the wheelhouse door. The chair washes out, and Jimmie told me he was holding on to the controls with all his might to keep from going out the drain and into the river.”
I happen to know that the Coffee Czar is a big fan of Get Your War On, a bizarro mixture of cultural satire, profanity, inanity, and endlessly recycled business clip art. The Czar got me started reading the site, and I have to admit this obscene minimalist comic has a very high laugh-out-loud quotient. A profile of the site’s creator, David Rees, showed up recently in the NY Times: Like ‘Dilbert,’ but Subversive and Online. It’s entertaining and informative to get a little perspective on the artist behind a site like this.
Rees also gets in a good dig at weblogs elsewhere on his site, My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable. It all feels a little McSweeneys-esque. What’s really weird is that my boss used to forward little good-management-practices booklets that used this exact same clip art.
I’ve been a fan of Erik Davis ever since I picked up TechGnosis at a bookstore years ago. He talks about our technologically frenzied culture from a mythological point of view, something generally absent from other cultural commentary. At the same time, he is an enthusiastic participant in the technoculture. He doesn’t scoff; he embraces and discusses. Here is an interview with him posted on the SFGate site: Q&A: Erik Davis / Cyber-visionary comments on the nature of technology in the world today
I can’t say that I’m very surprised by this. Craig Venter, formerly of Celera Genomics, built that multimillion dollar company to decode… his own genome. I wonder how many people knew what he was up to? Did he sneak in and switch the test tubes? It’s easy to make fun of him, but if you were in his position, wouldn’t you do the same thing? As he says: “How could one not want to know about one’s own genome?” Will people be motivated by spite to determine the genetic diseases lurking in his now uniquely public genome and then not tell him? Or maybe tell his insurers? From the story: As to opening himself to the accusation of egocentricity, he said, “I’ve been accused of that so many times, I’ve gotten over it.” Read about it in the New York Times: Scientist Reveals Genome Secret: It’s Him.
Seed magazine is a science-n-fashion magazine. It’s every bit as odd as it sounds. The ads look like they came straight out of Vanity Fair, and an article about James Watson’s new memoir is nestled next to a fashion shoot (“Unleash the gypsy within this spring, as the casual ease of a bygone bohemian era returns.”). This magazine will be out of business in six months. There is a good article by Guns, Germs, and Steel author Jared Diamond in which he talks about the dissolution of nomadic societies (as in Somalia and Afghanistan) as a root cause of economic deterioration and social unrest. His conclusion: make nomads settle and you give them a bad deal. They know it, and they’ll end up making you pay. And so they are.