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Things I've Found 34 (Unpopular Opinions)—10/14/2003

by Mark Rose

Dorothy Sayers once wrote a book called Unpopular Opinions. You wonder if such a book could be written today, or if everything we do now has to be so politically correct that you couldn’t stand and yell at people and tell them what’s what. But maybe that’s unfair. Maybe the unpopular opinion writings now come from the political fields of let and right — Al Franken counterbalanced by Joe Scarborough, Michael Moore counterbalanced by Bill O’Reilly. If so, could Dorothy Sayers and George Orwell please come back from the grave? We miss you!


When People Say that we haven’t found Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq, they don’t really mean it. They mean we haven’t found a big freaking pile of nuclear bombs. But we HAVE found enough material that should make people realize there might have been a reason to look warily at Iraq. I, for one, am happy that Saddam Hussein no longer has access to his continuing research on Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever. How do we know this? Because in a free and open society like ours, the US chief investigator for WMD posts his speech to Congress, his findings, and his photos online:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/2003/david_kay_10022003.html

This is just the first report after the first three months of investigation. It’s a long read, but very interesting, and quite disturbing. It would be nice if the “news”papers published this kind of stuff instead of the goop we’re getting.


Retouch Me! An amazing collection of digital photos and how one artist manipulated them so they would appear in magazines, etc. Check out the beautiful women and how he has sometimes not so subtly closed up pores to make their skin ultra-smooth, reduced head sizes and tamped down color variations. The women are pretty before their manipulation, and too beautiful and too unreal afterwards. I guess it’s too much to ask for truth in photography. For that, you have to stick with text. http://homepage.mac.com/gapodaca/digital/digital.html (from our friends at b3ta)


Politics via Phillip K. Dick — In Phillip K. Dick’s wonderful book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? He created a test to determine if an individual was a human being or just a good looking replicant, a robotic duplicate. Robots do not have real emotions. San Francisco’s alternative magazine, The Wave, asked all the San Francisco mayoral candidates the questions from this test with some amazing answers and analysis. It proves that most political candidates really are replicants. But Tom Ammiano, a Republican in the race, almost instantly tumbled to the questionnaire which is really quite prescient of him. And I love the two words he uses to describe his mom. He gets my vote!

http://www.thewavemag.com/printarticle.php?articleid=24031


More Bizarre Optical Illusions: I continue to feel woozy, but that might be the twee martoonis I just had:

http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/saishin-e.html

(Some of these are more successful than others.)


I’m looking through Edward Hamilton’s fantastic used book and remainder catalogue. He has GREAT books in general. Some of my favorite titles include:

  • A Close-Knit Family: Sweaters for Everyone You Love
  • The Guide to Living with Bladder Cancer
  • Journal to the Soul for Teenagers (Each page encourages the art of journal keeping and will inspire teenagers to write about their confusion, joys, and challenges — my vision of hell is having to read all these journals for all eternity)
  • Tap Dancing in Zen
  • Painting More Animals on Rocks (the delightful sequel to the original)
  • The Art of Rug Hooking (this will be your Christmas present this year)
  • The Creative Art of Tassels (no, I’m not kidding, it’s a real book by Nancy Welch)
  • History of Syphilis
  • Pinocchio’s Progeny: Puppets, Marionettes, Automatons, and Robots in Modernist and Avant-Garde Drama (I must admit, I’m buying this one — it’s only $4.95; how can you NOT buy a copy?)
  • The Teen Spell Book: Magick for Young Witches (yes, this is what it has come down to)
  • The Ingrid Pitt Bedside Companion for Vampire Lovers (do you even want to know?)
  • Affordable Foreign Errors on Postage Stamps of the World (you think I’m making these up, don’t you? I’m not, really)
  • The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods (nope, still not making them up)
  • Gourd Fun for Everyone (how could I make these titles up?)
  • The Easy-Bake Oven Gourmet (oh come on, give me a reason to buy this one, please; if I had an Easy-Bake Oven, I would get this book)

Good Lord, why am I not published? Oh yeah, it would require me to write something first, wouldn’t it?

By the way, if you’re inclined and you should be, go here: http://www.edwardrhamilton.com/ and sign up to receive his frequent catalogues of remaindered books at rock-bottom prices. It’s not just filled with bizarre books, there are some really wonderful titles at low prices. Well worth the second or two you’ll spend in signing up.