Typewriter of the moment: E. B. White, in rural Maine

June 6, 2014

E. B. White writing in his boat shed overlooking Allen Cove, 1976, using a portable manual typewriter.  Photo by Jill Krementz, from  her book, The Writer’s Image.

E. B. White writing in his boat shed overlooking Allen Cove, 1976, using a portable manual typewriter. Photo by Jill Krementz, from her book, The Writer’s Image.

Someone much more familiar with typewriters may be able to identify the machine.

Don’t you love the way the water looks as though it’s a painting, a work of art, hanging on the wall?

Turns out White was very fond of Dachsunds.

E. B. White at work, with his Dachsund looking on.

E. B. White at work, with his Dachsund, Minnie, looking on.

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Below the fold, the Tweet that inspired this post, from Jon Winokur.

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Top spammers? Really odd mix (please send the Aston-Martin, keep the Kia)

May 21, 2014

A few days ago I noted that this blog is under a severe spam attack series.  Still true, and the spam has increased.

Please, no spam. Apologies to Hormel's Spam.

Please, no spam. Apologies to Hormel’s Spam.

Looking at the spam, the top spammers look really odd.  For years internet pornography and sex talk sites dominated spam, but after the arrest of some top spammers in those fields, it dropped off dramatically.

Today?  Here is a list of six top spammers I’ve got, hitting me with more than 100 spam posts per hour, combined:

  • Quirk Volkswagen, in Manchester, New Hampsire; one of the ip addresses used is 186.95.33.219
  • San Diego Aston-Martin (maybe I should be flattered?), including this ip address: 186.91.230.150
  • OnlyExotic.com, including 186.93.101.107 — a seller of exotic automobiles
  • Paul Cerame Kia in Florissant, Missouri, from 186.95.218.21
  • getforeverrecovery.com, apparently a privately-run detoxification and rehabilitation facility, 223.30.29.210
  • Keller Grover, LLP, a California law firm, including 103.12.160.21

Were I less familiar with spam, I’d think each of these organizations is near bankruptcy, and each is desperately trying to get enough traffic to keep the doors open.  But after years, I’ve discovered that the most desperate generally cannot afford to waste time spamming.

I’d almost wager that these organizations and companies hired some public relations group to “place” their ads across the internet and get hits on the ads.  And I’d almost wager they are unaware of what their hirelings are doing.  A lot of the spam links directly to promotional videos on YouTube.  Yes, it’s against YouTube policies to use spam video links.

What do you think customers of these companies would think, if they knew?  Do you think they get significant business from a thousand comments on Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub?

Spam from Aston-Martin of San Diego.

Hey, Aston-Martin of San Diego — send me one of these including tax and title (I’ll license it here in Texas), you can spam my blog all you want for a year. Heck, I’ll even fly to San Diego at my expense to pick it up from you. But otherwise, please knock off the spam.

Keller Grover, can you tell me -- pro bono, of course -- whether California legal canons endorse a law firm spamming across the internet.  I need to know for a friend.

Keller Grover, can you tell me — pro bono, of course — whether California legal canons endorse a law firm’s spamming across the internet? Can I sue them for unauthorized product placement, or unauthorized advertising, and collect?  I need to know for a friend.

Yes, I’ve protested to these people at their comments sections and by e-mail.

Update: Heh.  Not 12 hours later, someone sent me this link, where Quirk VW said:

Our dealership maintains a strict “no-spam” policy. Subscribers to our e-mail services (or any other feature/service found on our Web site) will not receive unsolicited e-mail messages from us.

That’s my problem:  I didn’t send them any e-mail!

Meanwhile, at Whipped Cream Difficulties, the same complaint, about some of the same spammers.


Insta-Millard: “Not available on the App Store” — real child’s play

May 9, 2014

Found on Twitter:

Deep thoughts on Twitter, about children, childhood, recess and play. https://twitter.com/IntThings/status/464766923201576960

Deep thoughts on Twitter, about children, childhood, recess and play. https://twitter.com/IntThings/status/464766923201576960


Birth of hydrogen phobia: May 6, 1937, the Hindenberg crash

May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014, is the 77th anniversary of the Hindenberg tragedy. Docking at its station in New Jersey, after crossing the Atlantic, a spark ignited the aluminum-based paint on the airship, and the entire craft exploded into flame.

35 people died on the airship, and one on the ground — did you know a few survived? The Associated Press interviewed a man who was 8-years old that day, and a passenger on the airship.

Werner Doehner, an 8-year-old passenger aboard the Hindenburg, saw chairs fall across the dining room door his father had walked through moments before the disaster. He would never see his father alive again.

“Just instantly, the whole place was on fire,” said Doehner, of Parachute, Colo., who is the last surviving passenger. “My mother threw me out the window. She threw my brother out. Then she threw me, but I hit something and bounced back. She caught me and threw me the second time out. My sister was just too heavy for her. My mother jumped out and fractured her pelvis. Regardless of that, she managed to walk.”

Hindenberg on fire

Hindenberg on fire, May 6, 1937.

The disaster erroneously condemned hydrogen in the public’s mind. Despite widespread use of hydrogen gas for cooking and some transportation during World War II (including in the U.S.), use of hydrogen as a fuel beyond that has always faced the hurdle of the “Hindenberg Syndrome,” the fear that the gas would explode.

Is the fear justified?  Fact is that gasoline is much more volatile, more explosive, and generally more dangerous, than hydrogen.  We move, and use, millions of gallons of gasoline in the U.S. every day, worldwide very hour, bound by laws enforcing strict liability, in relative safety.  Most people don’t think about the explosive power of the few gallons of gasoline stored under the rear seat of their car, where the children ride.

What other technologies do we fear irrationally?  What technologies do we irrationally fail to fear so much as we should?

This is mostly an encore post.


Typewriter of the moment: Thomas Merton

April 16, 2014

Thomas Merton's typewriter, at Bellarmine University

Thomas Merton’s typewriter, at Bellarmine University; image from Spiritual Travels blog. Photo by Lori Erickson

One of Thomas Merton’s typewriters sits on display at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Who? You remember, the guy who wrote The Seven Storey Mountain.

Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was an American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis.[1][2][3]

Merton wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews, including his best-selling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), which sent scores of World War II veterans, students, and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the US,[4][5] and was also featured in National Reviews list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century.[6] Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton has also been the subject of several biographies.

It’s a French typewriter, by Royal, with French characters available for use.

Closeup of Thomas Merton's Royal Typewriter; The Thomas Merton Center

Closeup of Thomas Merton’s Royal typewriter, showing some of the special characters available for French; The Thomas Merton Center

 

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Another typewriter displayed by the Thomas Merton Center. One of Merton's?

Another typewriter displayed by the Thomas Merton Center. One of Merton’s?


Hans Rosling says “Don’t Panic!” Defusing the population bomb?

February 23, 2014

Yes, that famous Rosling guy with the bouncing bubble, animated charts from TEDS.

TEDS star Hans Rosling, not in over his head.

TEDS star Hans Rosling, not in over his head.

Why not panic?  Rosling’s group, Gapminder, explains:

The world might not be as bad as you might believe!

Don’t Panic – is a one-hour long documentary produced by Wingspan Productions and broadcasted on BBC on the 7th of November 2013.

The visualizations are based on original graphics and stories by Gapminder and the underlaying data-sources are listed here.
Hans’s — “All time favorite graph”, is an animating bubble chart which you can interact with online here and download offline here.

Hans presents some results from our UK Ignorance Survey described here.

Director & Producer; Dan Hillman, Executive Producer: Archie Baron. ©Wingspan Productions for BBC, 2013.    A DVD version of this film is available to order from Wingspan Productions.

Alas, we can’t embed the film.  You must view the video — for free — at the Gapminder site, here.


Typewriter of the moment: Pete Seeger

February 15, 2014

Photo found at the blog of the good Robert Messenger at OzTypewriter:

I can find no identifying information on the photo.  It looks, to me, to have been taken in the 1950s, judging by Pete’s hair and no beard.

Pete Seeger at his typewriter, probably in the 1950s.

Pete Seeger at a typewriter, probably in the 1950s.

It’s an electric typewriter, I think, seeing a cord coming out of the back.  Probably a Royal (I’m not great at identifying typewriters, you know).   Was this taken at Pete’s home in Beacon?  Perhaps.

Can you help in identifying the time and place of this photo?

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