My TVC 15

My wife and I were looking through lists of hit singles from our high school and college years and she didn’t know David Bowie’s TVC 15. A quick search found a video of that, but not just any performance. It was on Saturday Night Live, with Bowie in a skirt and pumps (very sharp!), with a stuffed pink poodle, with Klaus Nomi singing backing vocals, and the pink poodle has a TV monitor inside its mouth and the monitor is showing Klaus Nomi. Wow.

The YouTube commenters who say he looks like Janet Reno are just wrong. David is a much sharper dresser than Janet.

He also performed (“sang” just doesn’t seem to be enough) The Man Who Sold The World (video) while in a rigid column painted to look like formal wear.

You’d think that those two would be memorable enough with their “Bauhaus meets Dada” styling, but the one I remember from December 15, 1979 (I was working a shift at Willy’s Pub as my college job) was the the third song, Boys Keep Swinging. The other pieces were odd and fun, but this one was playing conceptual games with TV. Bowie was controlling a stick figure, and the TV monitors were only showing the figure. The studio audience was looking back and forth between the performers and the monitors. SNL had very straight camerawork, like a news show, so this was very different. We had live performers, the studio audience was watching the them and the TV version of the performers, the camera was going back and forth between the live version, the TV monitors, and the audience, and I was watching it all on TV on a show labeled “Live”. It was clear that Bowie was hacking media at a conceptual level and having a great time. If it had gotten any more meta, we would have needed Douglas Hofstadter to talk us back down to the ground.

Uncle Bill’s Tweezers

Cool Tools has a post on Uncle Bill’s Tweezers. These are excellent tweezers that hook onto your key ring and don’t get taken away at airports (so far). I’ve carried a pair of these for nearly fifteen years, ever since our youngest started crawling. It is my default small gift for new fathers. As soon as their child starts crawling, they’ll need to pick splinters out of baby knees. Works for adults, too.

I get mine from the display beside the cash register at Barron Park Plumbing Supply. They are a fine plumbing store and right next door to the original site of Shockley Semiconductor.

Uniform Inspections

Our Boy Scout troop has a boy-run uniform inspection at every meeting. Anyone who isn’t wearing a uniform shirt and troop neckerchief does five pushups. It isn’t hazing (forbidden by the BSA and a felony in Texas), since it applies to everyone and new Scouts get a pass for a while. Once last spring, 100% of the troop was in uniform, so the Senior Patrol Leader and his assistants did pushups. Seemed fair to me.

Aspirational Eating

No, that isn’t where you suck food into your lungs. That would be Heimlich eating.

Paul Kedrosky has a post linking P.F. Chang’s locations to subprime lending. He calls P.F. Chang’s an “aspirational restaurant, sort of the eating equivalent of ‘prosumer’ electronics.” It is a short post, but rich with wonderful phrases that evoke living beyond your means, like “intermittently monied”, “prosumer”, “middle class stretch”, and “subprime-hit”. Great finger-on-the-pulse stuff.

Off-topic note: I’ve been writing HTML since 1995 and this is the first time I’ve wanted nested hrefs. I felt I should link “P.F. Chang’s” inside the reference to Kedrosky’s blog. If dumb ol’ HTML links were good enough for twelve years of my use, they are probably good enough for everyone. Sorry about that, XLink and Ted Nelson.

The Army Tests Backcountry Water Treatment

Given the current explosion of water treatment options (UV, chemical, filters), I’m really happy to see the comprehensive test of products by the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. They don’t test the UV purifiers, but the they have great coverage of filters and chemical treatment with a clear presentation — green, yellow, red for coverage of pathogens and one, two, or three checks for degree of purification for each class of pathogen.

In chemical purification, the Katadyn Micropur MP 1 Tablets (link to REI) are the clear winner. Reading the detailed writeup, the MSR MIOX gets three checks across the chart when used with an “overkill” dosage — the 8X option in the MIOX instructions. That’s good, because I already own that one.

No water purifier is a substitute for washing hands. We had clean, pure water at Scout camp this summer but still had a few kids get the barfs and runs. Use soap and water, and scrub for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. Not at The Chimpmunks tempo. No cheating. If your patrol gets sick, the fingers point at the cook.

Side note: REI has really improved the linkability of their URL, stripping lots of paramjunk off the end. Let’s all give them some linklove.