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It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
— Albert Einstein


Table of Contents

Common Ground
Computer recycling
English language, the
Fame, my 15 minutes of, on the Web
Science & technology

The links

Anti-commercialism; anti-SPAM

The trouble with America isn't that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.
— Louis Kronenberger

Money doesn't talk, it swears.
— Bob Dylan

I'm not completely anti-commercial. I'm just appalled at what sometimes feels like the over-commercialization of almost everything and a rampant "anything for an almighty buck" attitude. I guess that makes me much more anti-commercial than most.

I refuse to commit the travesty of calling Candlestick Park in San Francisco by its commercial name just because some corporation paid $4,000,000 dollars for the right to have their name on it for a few years. I believe the only reason the use of mobile phones while driving is still legal is because there is $100 million* a year in highly profitable sales at stake, in complete disregard of the documented dangers to human life. I despise unsolicited commercial e-mail (SPAM) and advertising banners on Web sites, in part because it's we users rather than the advertisers themselves who wind up paying most of the costs (e.g. bandwidth).

Here are a few ways we can fight back, each in our own small way.

Adbusters Culture Jammers

a global network of artists, writers, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to launch the new social activist movement of the information age.

Campaign to Stop Junk Email

by JCR Design and Consulting: "It's irritating. It's rude. It's stupid. In short, it's a Really Bad Idea. Let's put an end to Junk Email right now."

Drive Now, Talk Later

Car Talk (the radio show) declares war on the use of cell phones while driving.


how to get rid of any junk mail, telemarketing calls, junk faxes, junk pages, junk email, unwanted banner ads and any other solicitations that you don't want, while still allowing or even encouraging whatever you do want.

MAPS Realtime Blackhole List

a system for creating intentional network outages for the purpose of limiting the transport of known-to-be-unwanted mass e-mail.

National Fraud Information Center

established by the oldest nonprofit consumer organization in the U.S. to fight telemarketing fraud by improving prevention and enforcement.

O'Reilly's Stopping Spam

"Spam is an unsolicited, unwanted message, sent to you without your permission. Spam is the Internet's version of junk mail: the electronic equivalent of telemarketing calls and envelopes full of coupons for items you don't want."


Anti-mobile phone headquarters

waldherr.org—Internet Junkbuster

a slightly modified version of the Internet Junkbuster, with a regularly updated blocklist. While the original Junkbuster does not download the ad and the browser displays a `broken' image instead, this version will replace the ad simply with an empty image.


a more sophisticated improved version of the Internet Junkbuster.


an easier-to-use version of the Internet Junkbuster.

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Common Ground

Common Ground for me!
Dar Williams

This place is anything but common.
John Gorka

Common Ground is "a lovely, intimate venue for acoustic music, located in Bryn Athyn, PA" (my home town). Intimate is indeed an appropriate word. It seats a few dozen; there are no bad seats. The web site lists an impressive roster of past performers. I am the webmeister for their web site and have, on occasion, done sound for performances.

If you live anywhere nearby, I encourage you to check it out. To Mira and Nina, I owe the utmost thanks for bringing so many wonderful performers to our community.

Here are some links to other venues.

Bucks County Folk Song Society

"Dedicated to furthering the interest and appreciation of folk music through education, research, and participation; familiarizing the people of southeastern Pennsylvania with authentic folk art; and providing a meeting place for those with a common interest in folk music."

Folk Project (Northern New Jersey)

"...a not-for-profit folk music and dance organization which sponsors or organizes a wide variety of folk music and dance activities in the Northern New Jersey area."

Godfrey Daniels

"A not-for-profit, member supported listening club," where, as I recall, John Gorka got his start.

Philadelphia Folksong Society

"...dedicated to furthering folk music in the Greater Philadelphia area, and beyond."

Princeton Folk Music Society

"...encourag[ing] the growth of folk music in central New Jersey for over 35 years."

The Tin Angel

"...a unique musical venue featuring a wide variety of top flight national and local attractions in an intimate cafe style setting."

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Computer recycling

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
— Pablo Picasso

As of this writing—early 2000—over half of all households in the U.S. have computers. According to one estimate their average lifespan is two years and dropping. That translates to about 80 million* computers becoming "obsolete" (I kept using my 1993 486SX until the end of 1999) every year, or 2½ every second.

According to a table published by the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation in 1996, a typical 60-pound desktop PC contains 35 pounds of currently unrecyclable substances of varying toxicity. Lead is one. Lead attacks the nervous system, blood system and kidneys in humans. Its deleterious effect on children's brain development is well documented. A typical desktop computer contains 3.8 pounds of lead. With 2½ computers becoming obsolete in the U.S. a second, that's potentially 9½ pounds of lead to be thrown out every second.

Meanwhile, less affluent people, educational institutions and other worthy potential recipients of "obsolete" computers are going without. If you consider your computer to be obsolete and you're considering throwing it out, try to find some suitable person or institution to which to donate it. Another alternative would be to install a free OS like Linux on it and squeeze a few more years of life out of it (which is what I've done).

Clean Computer Campaign, The

End of Year Report Card for 2001. Assessing hazardous materials and take-back policy of major computer corporations operating in the USA and Canada

Computer & Telecommunications Recycling

Global access to recycling markets for Used Computer Items; Cartridge Remanufacturing and Recycling; Computer Scrap and Dismantling; Used Phones & Telephone Equipment; Used Radio Equipment; and Used Television, Video & Cable Equipment.

E-Waste Background

A background document on hazards and waste from computers

Electronics: A New Opportunity for Waste Prevention, Reuse, and Recycling

(PDF: Adobe Acrobat Reader required) A white paper by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

PEP National Directory of Computer Recycling Programs

A [U.S.] state, [U.S.] national and international directory of agencies that facilitate donations of used computer hardware for schools and community groups (PEP: Resources for Parents, Educators & Publishers)

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English language, the

Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets.
— Eddy Peters

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you CAN make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

— Lewis Carroll

I love the English language. Maybe it's only because it's my native tongue. Or maybe I love language generally and I'd have been fascinated with whichever one I grew up speaking. (I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm typical of most of us in the U.S. in that I am monolingual. I really must learn to hablo espanol, at the very least, one of these days.)

A Word With You

A daily on-line column, featuring little known facts about well known words and phrases. It includes a cartoon panel and a short article joined at the hip and playing off one another. Also includes a daily mailing list to which you can subscribe.

A Word A Day

The music and magic of words—that's what A.Word.A.Day is all about. This is the Web site for the mailing list A.Word.A.Day (AWAD), which sends a vocabulary word and its definition to the subscribers every day. (Thanks, Lisa, for introducing me to this!)

alt.english.usage FAQ

Frequently asked questions from the alt.usage.english newsgroup.

Banished word list

Lake Superior State University's List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness has been going strong since New Year's Day 1976 and shows no signs of stopping.

Internet Anagram Server

I, Rearrangement Servant, will generate anagrams from any given word or phrase.


[chiasmus (ky-AZ-mus) n. a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases. chiastic adj.] A Web site for word, language and quotation lovers created by Dr. Mardy Grothe, author of Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You. Includes a daily mailing list to which you can subscribe.

Dictionaries & thesauri

American Heritage Dictionary (my personal favorite)

DICT Development Group


Hypertext Webster Gateway

Merriam-Webster Online

Oxford English Dictionary (for ordering dead-tree version only)

Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurus

Jargon File resources

Indexes all the WWW resources associated with Eric S. Raymond's Jargon File and its print version, The New Hacker's Dictionary. It's as official as anything associated with the Jargon File gets. As much about computers and hacking as about the English language, but it is the latter as well.


In the November 1954 issue of Harper's Magazine, Sylvia Wright confessed to mishearing part of a Scottish folk song. She heard "They hae slain the Earl of Moray / And laid him on the green" as "They hae slain the Earl Amurray / And Lady Mondegreen." Imagine her disappointment upon learning there was no Lady Mondegreen who so romantically gave her life to be with her love. Ever since Wright's confession have labeled such mishearings in honor of Lady Mondegreen's sacrifice.

On-line English Grammar

An on-line grammar of the English language (Duh!)


Roughly, a Shakespeareism is a word or phrase in common usage that was coined by William Shakespeare. It's said that as many as 1 in 10 of all words he used in his writings, he created.

Shakespeare, William, The Complete Works of

The Web's first edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Includes, among other things, a discussion area and search capability.


Lumped with dictionaries above

Wired Style

Subtitled "Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age"

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Fame, my 15 minutes of, on the Web

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life—so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls.
— Matt Cartmill

The bald truth about this section is that it comprises the results thus far of my egosurfing. By the way, if we're old friends and haven't seen each other for a long time, or more to the point, if you think you might be currently acquainted with an old friend of mine, please check my reverse egosurfing page to see if I'm looking for you or for them.

Tasty Bits from the Technology Front

At the end there's an added note on my taking up the challenge in the article, Bill to relax crypto exports is gutted.

TBTF (bis)

I'm credited for providing information on CPSR's ICANNT, which shortly thereafter began pointing to the German list.

waldherr.org—Junkbuster Hall Of Fame

A kudo for adding an expression or two

Interestingly enough, that same week a e-mail of mine was read on NPR's Morning Edition®. They had run a story that they describe as follows:

Mark Hyman profiles Ernie Tyler, a 74-year-old ballboy for the Baltimore Orioles who hasn't missed a home game since opening day in 1960. Tyler is responsible for conditioning the baseballs by rubbing mud into them before games, which takes the glare off the new, bright balls. It's one of the tasks Tyler has performed for so long that he's become invaluable to the Orioles and legendary in baseball.

In this story, they pointed out that Tyler had been the Oriole's ballboy since John F. Kennedy was President of the United States. I e-mailed in, perhaps even before the story was finished being broadcast, that he'd actually been ballboy since Dwight D. Eisenhower was President. Perhaps the early bird gets his e-mail read on NPR.

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Due to circumstances beyond your control, you are master of your fate and captain of your soul.
— Jawaharlal Nehru

My passion for protecting my privacy, especially in cyberspace, is closely related to my anti-commercialism. I'm concerned because it's unregulated, but also because I'd prefer not to have the government regulating it, since they're the biggest threat I know to privacy. Here are some ways to become more aware and to protect yourself.

Americans for Computer Privacy

a broad-based coalition working to ensure that the privacy of all Americans' confidential files and communications is preserved and protected in the information age


offers anonymous surfing, email, Web publishing, and secure dial-up services

Big Brother Awards

awards to the government and private sector organizations which have done the most to destroy personal privacy

Big Brother Inside

Boycott against Intel because of its plans to include a unique Processor Serial Number (PSN) in every one of its new Pentium III chips

DiBona.com Paperwork Server

Chris DiBona lists the kinds of paperwork you need to buy, rent or sell various things. Each comes with its own short editorial opinion.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

A public interest research center in Washington, D.C. Established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment and constitutional values


evaluations of over 15,000 Web sites with a 1 to 4 star rating so you can have just-in-time privacy awareness whenever you use enonymous® advisor

Explaining CSS-decryption source code the MPAA

Geek cartoonist J.D. "Illiad" Frazer's (User Friendly) take on how to do this. If you don't get it, trying looking at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's press release on this topic.


They claim to provide the world's only Web-based email with end-to-end security

Lucent Personalized Web Assistant

assists you while browsing the Web by providing privacy, convenience, account security and the use of embedded Target-Revokable E-mail Addresses to combat junk e-mail


a personal proxy server that protects your privacy while on the Internet.

Onion Routing

a research project to build an Internet-based system that strongly resists traffic analysis, eavesdropping, and other attacks both by outsiders (e.g. Internet routers) and insiders (Onion Routers themselves)


The PRIVACY Forum includes a free moderated e-mail digest (plus archive and related documents) for the discussion of personal and collective privacy in the information age. I subscribe. It's a good read.

Privacy International

a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance by governments and corporations

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

in-depth information on a variety of informational privacy issues, as well as practical tips on safeguarding personal privacy

Privacy Watchdog

help assess the state of privacy on the Internet and send a clear message to the business community that privacy matters


The world's first and only free anonymous certificate authority

We know who you are!

Find out how much information about yourself you are presenting to each web site you visit. Be patient; it may take a few minutes to determine everything it can.

Zero-Knowledge Systems | Freedom

Surf, email, chat, telnet, and post to newsgroups in privacy

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Science & Technology

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.
— Isaac Newton

In the sciences, we are now uniquely privileged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand.
— Gerald Holton

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders.
— Hal Abelson

In computer science, we stand on each other's feet.
— Brian K. Reid

In a way, I missed my calling. I'm a computer programmer. I love it, and I'm good at it. But sometimes I think I'd prefer to be more the scientist and less the engineer. Especially if it involved looking at celestial bodies all day (or at least images of their various spectra).

20 of the 20th Century's most conspicuous technological failures

One of these—the seventh—took me by surprise. Even though I've been identifying the same shortcoming for decades, it's really a misuse rather than a technological failure.

Orders of magnitude

A view from 10 million light years on down to quarks by single orders of magnitude. I'm not sure why they didn't start with a view showing the filamentary web of clusters of galaxies.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

A new image every day, with plenty of links. It's been my browser's home page for years. Only trouble is, some days I spend more time than I should surfing the underlying information.

Bacteria from Mars?

According to this article on Wired News, astronomers reported on 12 January 2000 they had found it possible that a pair of bacteria—Bacillus subtilis (wild) and Deinococcus radiodurans R1—could have traveled to Earth from Mars, 4½ billion* years ago, when Mars might have been wet enough and warm enough to support life. The mode of travel would have been by meteoroids, or rocks blasted out of the Martian surface by collisions with comets, asteroids or other objects. Something like 50 billion meteoroids are believed to have traveled from Mars to Earth in the first 500 million years of the planet's existence, and another 1 billion in the last 4 billion years.

The article has no links or references and my quick search of the Web turned up nothing else, but I expect to find some better links shortly.

Most energy released in a single observed event

On 14 December 1997 an burst of gamma rays was detected coming from a galaxy 12 billion* light-years away. This is something like 80% of the distance to the edge of the universe. If the relevant assumptions, including this distance, are correct, it was the single most energetic event ever observed. This page estimates that this event, designated GRB 971214, was producing as much energy as all the rest of the universe combined! This is several hundred times as intense as supernovae (exploding stars). Less intense gamma ray bursts are common, but their origin is unknown.

Physics News Update

Home of the American Institute of Physics' free, roughly weekly newsletter and Physics Success Stories.

Salt substitutes can kill

The main ingredient in some salt substitutes—potassium chloride or KCl—is the same substance Dr. Jack Kevorkian utilized in some of his assisted suicides. As documented in this The Straight Dope column for 17 December 1999, Can salt substitute kill you?, surprisingly small quantities of these salt substitutes can be lethal. Infants have died after ingesting no more than 4 cc (less than one teaspoon). On top of that, the radiation they emit can also give a Geiger counter a nice workout (about 2/3 of the way down the page). These products are sometimes represented as health foods.

Stars with mountain ranges, faults, and quakes

This presents evidence that certain dead stars form structures like mountain ranges and faults and sustain occasional "starquakes" similar to earthquakes here on Earth. These dead stars are magnetrons—magnetized neutron stars. They are so massive that when they run out of fuel and die, and thus can no longer produce enough energy to prevent it, their atoms collapse on themselves. A neutron star with 50% more mass than our Sun would only be 16 kilometers (10 miles) in diameter. As they collapse, their spin increases, in order to conserve momentum, until they are spinning several times a second.

I'm a regular and enthusiastic reader of Cecil Adams's The Straight Dope. I recommend it.

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Chancel of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral


Which is it, is man one of God's blunders, or God one of man's blunders?
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Why is it that when we talk to God we're said to be praying, but when God talks to us we're schizophrenic?
— Lily Tomlin

I'm a paranoid agnostic. I doubt the existence of God, but I'm sure there is some force, somewhere, working against me.
— Marc Maron

God is a comic playing to an audience that's afraid to laugh.
— Voltaire

I was raised as a Swedenborgian. This tiny religion, often confused with being a cult, has had a profound effect on me. Both my parents, all four grandparents and all eight great-grandparents were Swedenborgian. This would be remarkable—at least in the U.S.—for any religion, let alone one started little more than 200 years ago and still numbering only tens of thousands of members.

Today I like to describe it as a primarily Black African religion, despite its origin (as an organized religion) in England in the late 18th Century. I'd guess that more than half of the world's Swedenborgians are blacks living in Ghana (where the Ghanaians apparently found it on their own) and South Africa (where the church undertook significant missionary work early in the 20th Century).

Swedenborg himself did not address the issue of establishing of a church separate from those Christian churches extant in his day. He seemed to hope that his publications would influence the thinking of religious leaders in existing denominations. His father Jesper was the Lutheran Bishop of Skara, part of whose domain happens to include that part of the New World where I was born, raised and live today. It appears however that Swedenborg was not much of a church goer, although he was clearly very spiritual and very religious. His most famous (or infamous) claim is that he was the instrument of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Swedenborgianism was substantially more influential in the U.S. in the 19th Century than it is now (this is a local copy of a page no longer on the Swedenborg Foundation site). The list of people influenced by Swedenborg includes a number of well-known denizens of the 19th Century. I suspect the reduction in this influence has a lot to do with the schisms that have repeatedly split the Swedenborgian churches since the late 1800's. My ancestors were participants in the first of these and not in the sense of trying to keep us together. I believe if I'd have been alive then, I'd have taken the other side.

[Thanks to Jim Lawrence for suggestions on how to improve this section.]

All religion relates to life, and the life of religion is to do good.
— Emanuel Swedenborg

God loves each and every human being; and because he cannot do good to them directly, but only indirectly through other people, he therefore breathes into people his love....
— Emanuel Swedenborg

...[T]o feel another's joy as joy in oneself, this is loving.
— Emanuel Swedenborg

Academy of the New Church

The educational institution that was, for all intents and purposes, synonymous with the General Church of the New Jerusalem for most of its first century.

Biographical information on Emanuel Swedenborg

Biographical Note on Emanuel Swedenborg

from the Swedenborg Association

Emanuel Swedenborg

by David Cody and Richard Goerwitz (my cousin)

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)

by Bertolt Brecht(?)

Emanuel Swedenborg: An Introduction to His Life and Writings

by George F. Dole

Emanuel Swedenborg: The Man Who Talked with Angels

Transcript of a radio documentary, by Douglas Taylor (my father-in-law)

Some of Swedenborg's Autobiographical Letters and Numbers

by Leon James


Copyright © 1999 Word Trade: A Reader's Guide to Current Books & New Media. This looks to me like it was produced independently, i.e. not by anyone affiliated with any branch of any Swedenborgian organization. If so, you might find it relatively objective. Then again, I could be wrong.

Swedenborg: A Biography

by Jane K. Williams-Hogan, Ph.D., Bryn Athyn College of the New Church

Swedenborg: A Herald of the New Age?

by Jean-François Mayer, University of Fribourg

Swedenborg; or, the Mystic

by Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Representative Men

Swedenborg's Biography

from the Swedenborg Association

Bryn Athyn College of the New Church

The collegiate arm of the Academy (and seminary for the General Church).

Chronology of Swedenborg's Written Works

He actually wrote much more than this, though this is the best list I've seen on the Web.

Lord's New Church

The North American church that split away from the General Church in the early part of the 20th Century.

General Church of the New Jerusalem

The North American church that split away from the Swedenborgian Church in the 19th Century and comprised the "Academy Movement". The organized church into which I was baptized and in which I have been most active—though with many misgivings—during my adult life.

Laurel Family Camps

This link is a a few years old, but I had to include it. This has been my real church, unorganized though it is, since August 1988. At various times I was Treasurer, Staffing Coordinator, Group Leader and Pop-Dir (each week of camp is led by two directors—one female and one male: Mom-Dir and Pop-Dir).

NewEarth Swedenborg BBS

Michael David's Web contribution: the oldest and most comprehensive Swedenborgian site on the Internet.

NewSearch 98 Net

An online program that provides for searching all of Swedenborg's theological writings, including by Biblical reference.

Swedenborg Foundation

Non-profit publisher, book seller and educational organization. Not affiliated with any religion or denomination. Their purpose is to foster an affirmative, adventurous, and increasingly broad engagement with the theological thought of Emanuel Swedenborg, especially among persons desiring to apply spiritual principles to life

Swedenborg Lending Library and Enquiry Centre

"...a non profit organisation which promotes an awareness and appreciation of the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg in Australia"

Swedenborgian House of Studies

"Envisioning ministries of compassion, spirituality and empowerment for the Swedenborgian Church and the world."

The mission of the Swedenborg House of Studies (located at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA) is threefold:
* to prepare qualified men and women for Swedenborgian ministries;
* to serve as a center for spiritual growth and Swedenborgian scholarship;
* to make its resources available to the Church and community.

Swedenborg Society, The

The Swedenborg Society was established in 1810 for the purpose of printing and publishing the works of Emanuel Swedenborg. It has been active not only in producing English translations, but in initiating and supporting translations into many other languages throughout the world. Its publications have included translations in most of the European as well as some Asiatic and African languages.

Swedenborgian Church of North America

The original North American church based upon the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The church in which I was most active during my youth.


The Catholic Encyclopedia entry. I'd say they're correct about why most of us don't like the term "Swedenborgian" (I guess I'm an exception).

Wayfarer's Chapel

Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, Wayfarers Chapel was conceived as a respite for all wayfarers on the journey of life. No one realized that this simple idea would produce a world-renowned sacred site.

What The Bible Says

A series of articles by John Odhner offering a summary of some of the teachings of the Bible. John says, "[D]on't be surprised if you find here some ideas different from what you may have heard elsewhere."

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*Here, as elsewhere in my Web pages, I use words like billion and trillion, in the non-British sense of 109 and 1012, respectively.

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