Friday, August 29, 2008

Phil Hill R.I.P.

Lat night the USA's only Formula One World Champion Phil Hill died from complications associated with Parkinson's Disease. Hill dated from an era where so many of his co-drivers perished practicing their sport that his 81 years seems remarkable.

A very complex character, Hill seized the F1 title in late 1961 behind the wheel of his Ferrari. Tragically, the same race at Monza killed his team mate and fourteen spectators, a dark cloud always hung over his achievement. Hill went on to win 3 times at Le Mans before retiring to his native California.

The drivers of today stand upon the shoulders of great men like Phil who literally risked everything in their pursuit of speed. Next week's F1 round will be the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa, coincidentally a race Hill also won in 1961.

Phil Hill at Formula

Last Night At The DNC

Nicely put, when can you start?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Byrne + Eno

The new album from Talking Heads' front man David Byrne and musical polymath Brian Eno is out and it's good. RIAA/label hating folks should head to the Everything That Happens Will Happen Today site where they can put their money where their mouth is and buy the whole thing direct from the artists concrned. $8.99 gets you a 320Kbs MP3 or FLAC (with 14 page PDF booklet), another $3 gets you all that plus a physical CD for the tactile amongst us. The album also streams for free plus there's a free MP3 single too.

Like I said, those who rage against the current system need to pony up and show our support for viable alternatives.

"The thing is nowadays, you'll have 20 men working, yet 60 men telling them 'You can't do that, you ain't got a tin hat on'".

The title quote is from Fred Dibnah, former Bolton steeplejack, TV star and steam engine fancier. Fred's philosophical musings, mostly uttered whilst at the top of some 300' chimney he was "felling" became a cult classic on UK television and thanks to YouTube can now be enjoyed anywhere.

Fred was a man who truly knew no fear. Not in our current tough guy, reality TV sense (Man Versus Swim-Up Pool Bar) but as someone who had a respect for the perils of his profession and had come to terms with the possibility that this day could be the last. A true character in a world increasingly full of pretenders.

Fred was taken by cancer in 2004 but has a website dedicated to him here. And as Fred would have said "By 'eck it were grand."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What If...

...Tom Waits had been part of Schoolhouse Rock? Would the conversation go something like this:

Teacher - "So Johnny what did you do this weekend?"
Johnny - "Well Teach, see there was this bar down by the docks. And back in the day she was a looker but now it's just a head of foam and legs like twizzle sticks. But the stilettos could still pierce and my blood ran red like Thunderbird on an obsidian sidewalk."
Teacher - "Er, thanks Johnny, Mary did you go to the park?"

Just wondering, that's all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TV Production Trucks - A Study In Contrasts

NMT monitor wall & front bench, 1978 and NEP SS25 monitor wall & front bench 2008. Check out the pop-top Bud!

What Are They Gonna Do? Really I Mean

Many of Hilliary's supporters are still full of righteous indignation over slights, perceived and real, by the Obama campaign. But really, what are they going to do about it? Vote for McCain? Yep, that'll show that DNC. If ever there was needed a case of "get over it" now is the time.

Monday, August 25, 2008


When blogs start to write about blogging it's generally a good indication that they've jumped the shark. This is not something I intend to do here by the way, my intent is just to mitigate any and all blame for my lack of recent postings.

The popular podcast This Week In Tech accused many blogs of doing nothing more than re-posting information from other blogs with a picture attached. I agree with their analysis and have always attempted to keep Life For Dummies a place of often ironic but at least original thought. Today, whilst feeling a little guilty about the irregularities of my postings I realized that it's better to post nothing than to write merely to fulfill an artificially self-imposed deadline or commitment.

Therefore, I plan to continue to blog, when, where and about whatever I want with a particularly big emphasis on the when and I shall not feel one wit of guilt for allowing extended periods of time to lapse between postings.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lefsetz & Solzhenitsyn

I first read Alexander Solzhenitsyn at 12 years old after watching the movie adaptation of Ivan Denisovich. His books were the perfect food for my teenage angst and led me to many other authors writing about social & political injustice around the world. I'm saddened at his passing but instead of writing my own piece on the man I lead you to Bob Lefsetz who has done a much better job than I could ever have.

As for rockers… Shit, the art form expired with Bon Jovi and the rest of the hair bands back in the eighties. To this day, I’ve never heard Jon Bon Jovi utter a negative word. He doesn’t want to offend anybody, he doesn’t want to risk his lifestyle, he doesn’t stand for anything. Whereas Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was only about the truth, he was willing to risk his life for the truth, he was driven to stand up to a repressive government. While in the twenty first century Justin Timberlake serves up African-American Janet Jackson after disrobing her at the Super Bowl, needing to be on America’s Team, one that is always right and does no wrong.

What has America’s Team become? One solely of rampant commercialism?

You took the words outta my mouth Bob. Find the full version here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

TSA - The Best & Worst Edition

Frequent travelers are well aware that the TSA experience varies widely from airport to airport. Blog or no blog, the TSA experience is one of inconsistency.

So, may I have the envelope please?

Best : San Diego & Dallas/Fort Worth
Worst : Atlanta Hartsfield & Chicago O'Hare

San Diego is cramped but calm & polite, no shouting or pouting, pretty typical SoCal attitude. DFW has the advantage of multiple points of entry so the lines are rarely long. On the dark side, ATL has the rudest & most incompetent staff & ORD is just complete chaos.

So there you have it, trophies are in the mail.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Saving Fingers (and hands)!

According to Sawstop, every 9 minutes a table saw related accident occurs. Using the body's natural ability to act as an electrical ground the Sawstop 10" saw blade instantly brakes & drops below the table. The demo video using a hotdog is truly, wincingly amazing, I thought that a demo using a live finger might be cooler but I'm not sure I'd volunteer myself.