zerode – a sensibility


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Cults I Have Known

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Cults tried and rejected

  • Scientology
  • Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (sheesh!)
  • Hare Krishnas
  • Revolutionary Communist Party (“Mao more than ever”)
  • Daytime soap operas
  • Wheatgrass
  • Non-fat, decaf lattes
  • Spin classes
  • Craigslist hook-ups
  • Cars

Cults embraced

  • Dogs
  • Kale
  • Coffee
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Walks in the park
  • Parenthood

Filed under: Autobiography, Humor,

The perils of non-contextual ads

Filed under: Humor, ,

tinfoil hat, n. : Oxford English Dictionary


tinfoil hat, n. :

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌtɪnfɔɪl ˈhat/ , U.S. /ˈˌtɪnˌfɔɪl ˈhæt/

orig. and chiefly U.S.

A hat made from tinfoil.

With allusion to the belief that such a hat protects the wearer from mind control, surveillance, or similar types of threat. Frequently either extraterrestrials or the government are imagined to be the source of such threats.

(via Oxford English Dictionary.)

The earliest cited use of the term in the OED is from 1982, though the concept has been around much longer – since a 1927 science fiction story, according to the Wikipedia entry.

Be sure to check out The Tinfoil Hat Song. If that speaks to you, you might want to get Tinfoil Hat Linux. You might also want to read “MIT Researchers Claim Tin-Foil Hats Don’t Stop Government Mind Control Rays.”

Myself, I’ll stick to my tinfoil-lined duct tape wallet for the time-being. Aliens and men in black may be scary, but ID snafflers seem like a more real and present danger. How To Make A RFID Blocking Wallet.

Filed under: Humor

Spoof London Underground Announcements

“You’ve got the microphone. It’s a Monday morning. There are hundreds of bored commuters listening. The temptation is simply too much…” Spoof London Underground Announcements – Emma Clarke.

Here’s a sample.

Filed under: Humor,

Summer Movies in a Parallel Dimension

There seems to be a new toy in the house, but it isn’t in Andy’s bedroom. Buzz and Woody set out to investigate and make friends.  They almost catch up with the new toy in the living room one evening before finally making contact in mom’s bedroom. Buzz panics, thinking the new toy is either a robot spy or a tachyon missile, while Woody is sure the toy is meant for him, some sort of bucking bronco machine.  But mom’s new vibrator has plans of her own…

Coming this summer to theatres in a parallel dimension: Sex Toy Story


Filed under: Humor,

Mad Magazine take on “The Realities of Unemployment”

As if that comparison of PhDs and The World Cup were not bad enough in terms of hope-deflation, as I am struggling with unemployment in America along comes this bit of pointed humor, to skewer my hopes and plans, like catching up on my Chaucer reading (click on the image for a readable version):

MADATOMS – THE REALITIES OF UNEMPLOYMENT by Matt Houghton – Artist: Sean Metcalf.

Filed under: Humor,

World Cup vs. PhD

Just when I am considering going back to grad school, I run across this…

PHD Comics: World Cup vs. PhD.

Filed under: Humor,

xkcd: Swimsuit Issue

Remember when the SI swimsuit issue was some of the best masturbatory material you could get as a 13 year old boy? (Well, probably not if you’re a girl, but still…)

xkcd: Swimsuit Issue.

Filed under: Humor,

xkcd: Worst-Case Scenario

Filed under: Humor, ,

Why I’m moving back to California…

In fairness to my readers, I should point out that this graphic is not entirely accurate. It’s somewhat out of date—Steve Irwin should be replaced by Bindi Irwin. And presumably afraid that they wouldn’t be believed, the mapmakers seem to have deliberately downplayed some of the dangers of Australia, and omitted others entirely. While fires are listed, neither floods nor hail the size of grapefruit appear. Nor is Tony Abbott given a look, though these days there is a real danger of being mowed down by him on his bicycle while he is distracted plotting a US-style religious right shake-up of Australian politics. Likewise, there is no mention of hoons or bogans. Crocodiles are shown, but their propensity for hanging out in swimming pools is inexplicably omitted.

The fact that Australia has some nasty snakes and giant crocodiles and killer sharks is well known. That it also has the meanest and most painful plant in the world, less so. The stinging tree—found mostly in Queensland—has tiny silicon hairs covering the leaves and fruit of the plant, which break off in the skin if you brush against it and then can’t be removed. The effect is apparently extraordinarily unpleasant. When I lived in Far North Queensland, a story was making the rounds of a fellow who brushed against a stinging tree with a very sensitive part of his anatomy while taking a leak along the dirt road running north from Cape Tribulation (the name is a bit of a giveaway). Even given the nature of the affected area, apparently the pain was so great that amputation was seriously considered.

And though the nature of Australia’s snake population (see here or here or here) is known in vague and general terms—largest number of species of venomous snakes, snakes with the deadliest venom, yada yada yada—people outside of Australia simply have no concept of the truth, and this map does not begin to convey the true horror of the situation. Australia has lots of venomous snakes, sure—so does the US. But in Australia, they are common—even in major cities. My son’s school in the center of the nation’s capital had to be shut down twice one year because snakes were hunting the playground. They cut down all the bushes and laid down a gravel cordon sanitaire around the school in an effort to limit such incursions. Going for a walk in Melbourne or Adelaide? Watch out for brown snakes. Going for a swim in the summer resort area south of Sydney? That stick in the water might be a red-bellied black snake.

And don’t even get me started on Taipans. Yes, they are the most venomous snake in the world. (Of the top five most venomous snakes—wait for it—all of them are Australian.) But scary as it may be, that factoid fails to convey the full nature of the Taipan. This is a snake on steroids, whacked out on crystal meth. It’s not lounging around in the sun, torpid and sleepy like a rattlesnake. It’s fast and mean. It will look you up in the phone book, come to your house and bite you when you answer the door bell—and it’s over 2 metres long! Forget sharks with frickin’ lasers—it’s the most venomous snake in the world, highly energetic and over 2 metres long!

Speaking of sharks with frickin’ lasers, these are no longer limited to the waters around Adelaide as the map claims. They have been implicated in a number of boat fires and explosions in Queensland waters, including a couple that engulfed boats carrying refugees and asylum seekers.  There are rumors that Pauline Hanson, Australia’s answer to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, may be behind these attacks by sharks with frickin’ lasers on illegal immigrations, but there has also been talk of the Royal Australian Navy recruiting the sharks as a low cost but deadly addition to the fleet, a deterrent against invasion by Indonesia.

Then there’s the Sydney Funnel-web Spider, which also has been shortchanged by the mapmakers, who simply describe them as “giant.” They are indeed giant—up to 4.5cm for just the body—but they are also black, aggressive, and have powerful fangs. They hide in burrows and crevices in yards throughout the Sydney area, and leap out at people (no kidding). If no one comes into the backyard for them to leap at, the males often wander into houses, looking for a fight—a true fact. (Sydney males of other species tend to wander into pubs rather than homes for this purpose.)

Of course, despite these phenomenal and totally freakish dangers (crocodiles in swimming pools, stinging trees, sharks with frickin’ lasers!), Australia is also a country of tremendous joy and beauty, and there are things about it I will greatly miss…

Filed under: Autobiography, Humor, , , ,

What were we thinking in the 70s?

There’s been a lot of discussion of privacy and over-sharing on the interweb recently – with, eg, a new Facebook tool that lets you quickly find everyone who’s posted to the whole world about losing their virginity, their racist views or jokes about and experiences with anal sex

But this guy takes embarrassing personal disclosure to a whole new level:

Steve Almond’s Bad Hair.
[It’s] one of the basic laws of Having Lived Through the 1970s, ’80s, or ’90s that you had bad hair at some point. Probably at many points. And that this bad hair was captured on film, and that the relevant pix still exist out there, somewhere, ready to undermine whatever modicum of cool you believe yourself to have achieved.

This is what I’m talking about:

(via PowellsBooks.Blog.)

Out of solidarity with Steve – a nice fellow and a good writer – and his willingness to challenge the silence and stigma around 70s hair, here’s a picture of me from the same era:

Actually, I wish I could still grow hair that long and blond – but if the price of such luxurious locks was having to have a (non-) cut like that, and wear sweater vests and wide-collared rayon shirts, I think I’d pass.

Filed under: Autobiography, Humor, ,

We handed control of our social world to Facebook and they’re doing evil stuff!

xkcd: Infrastructures.

Filed under: Humor, Interweb,



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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.



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