Jacko Doesn’t Like Spabooks

Michael JacksonJust when you thought Michael Jackson couldn’t sound any crazier, somebody finds something else to surprise you. CNN reports on an upcoming Vanity Fair article that reveals some pretty weird stuff, even for him:

Jackson bleaches his skin white because he does not like being black… [and] refers to black people as “spabooks”…

[Jackson] wears a page-boy wig and a prosthesis that serves as the tip of his nose…[W]ithout the device Jackson resembles a mummy with two nostril holes…

[I]n 2000 Jackson attended a voodoo ritual in Switzerland where a witch doctor promised that Spielberg, music mogul David Geffen and 23 other people on the entertainer’s list of enemies would die. Jackson, who underwent a “blood bath” as part of the ritual, then ordered his former business adviser Myung-Ho Lee to wire $150,000 to a bank in Mali for a voodoo chief named Baba, who sacrificed 42 cows for the ceremony.

I was starting to feel some sympathy for him after that ABC TV special did a chop job on him, but if even some of the things said about him are true then he’s gone off the deep end some time ago. I’d like to think that some of these stories are exaggerations, but with Michael, nothing surprises me anymore…

Top Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books

The Science Fiction Book Club has posted its list of “The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002”. I didn’t consider myself that much of a science fiction or fantasy afficionado, having read only eight of the listed titles. However, I would list most of those eight among my favorite books, so I obviously enjoy the genres more than I thought. I’ll have to check out some of the other titles, as there are at least a couple that I’ve been meaning to read for some time now.

Pearl Harbor Threatened

The Washington Times reports that “Terrorists linked to al Qaeda have targeted U.S. military facilities in Pearl Harbor, including nuclear-powered submarines and ships,” and are “planning an attack on Pearl Harbor because of its symbolic value and because its military facilities are open from the air.” I suppose nothing should surprise me these days, but this is just despicable.

A related story that is at least as disturbing is the discovery of tapes surveilling the World Trade Center and other landmarks as long ago as 1997, allegedly in preparation for attacks. I’ve refrained from posting paranoid, speculative stories on terrorism, but these two were especially poignant and just plain scary.

Six Feet Under Is Back!

Six Feet UnderThe new season premiere of Six Feet Under aired Sunday on HBO. Although I missed most of the first season and didn’t see the second season until it ran in reruns, I was quickly hooked. The show, along with The Sopranos, is worth the price of HBO alone, as it never fails to captivate and entertain. HBO’s web page is full of interesting tidbits and extras, but if you haven’t seen the show yet, it’s definitely worth watching.

Civilian Tilt-Rotor Ready For Test Flight

BA609CNN reports that “Fort Worth, Texas-based Bell/Agusta Aerospace Co. is just weeks away from conducting its first test flights of a civilian tilt-rotor aircraft, called the BA 609. For those of you who haven’t heard about tilt-rotors, "A tilt-rotor has engines that pivot 90 degrees so the aircraft can take off vertically like a helicopter then fly horizontally like a plane.” The military has been testing the V-22 tilt-rotor for some time now, although the test program has been plagued with several fatal accidents. I’ve been touting the technology of the tilt-rotor for some time, even writing a really bad point paper on it back in 1987 or so for a high school assignment. 😉 Because a tilt-rotor can transition between vertical and horizontal flight like a helicopter and airplane, respectively, a tilt-rotor does not need a runway to take off or land but has the speed and range of a conventional aircraft. Such flexibility could revolutionize military and civilian aviation alike, but unfortunately the spectre of the accidents has cast a dark shadow on the V-22 program and tilt-rotors in general. I really hope that they can prove the technology reliable and safe, because it would be a shame to see such an innovative aircraft never realize its full potential.

Tech Support Woes

Although I know that my experiences with technical support services are by no means atypical, it was nice to see them so accurately depicted in yesterday’s Dilbert comic strip. Especially when it comes to computers, I’m well-versed enough to be able to solve most problems on my own. I call technical support only as a last resort, knowing that in almost every case I will be forced to go through the tedious process of waiting on hold, only to have to rehash my problem with several layers of cue-card readers who are well-versed in walking people through such difficult procedures as rebooting, before possibly speaking to someone that can help me with the actual problem. I used to be an amicable, patient person when it came to such matters, but after too many mind-numbingly frustrating encounters I’ve turned into a cynical, bitter man with a short fuse. Stop making me repeat myself and *fix it* dammit! There, much better.

The Falcon Released

The L.A. Times reports that Christopher Boyce has been paroled after being in prison since 1977 for his espionage activities. Boyce is best known as The Falcon in The Falcon And The Snowman movie and book, although he prefers not to be called that. The interview goes into some detail about his prison life and eventual parole after the surprising intervention of then-Senator Sam Nunn. However, I wonder whether he would have won his release if the end of the Cold War hadn’t to a degree diminished the seriousness of his espionage…

20 Questions

This computer version of 20 Questions is uncannily right most of the time. In fact, the couple of times it didn’t get it within the allotted 20 questions were blamed on my answering its questions incorrectly, although that’s debatable, I suppose. Try it out!