News & Politics

NetNomad 20

Five offbeat, timely reviews of Web sites on the arts, politics and news -- with a dash of the absurd thrown in for good measure. This week: Mojave Phone Booth ... Beer Can Bob ... Books Read ... An Interview with Randy Newman ... No Parole Peltier Association.
Mojave Phone Booth (www.deuceofclubs.com/moj/index.html)

It is with deep and profound sadness that we must report that the Mojave Phone Booth is no more. The phone, situated in the Mojave National Preserve, was installed in 1960 but was largely ignored until a few years ago when the phone began attracting attention on the Internet. Before long people from around the world began dialing the number, if only to see if anyone would answer. As the Web site became more popular, of course, more and more people were indeed on hand to answer the phone. Pacific Bell and the National Park Service had the phone removed last week for that very reason, claiming it was attracting too many curiosity-seekers. Which is generally the purpose of a National Preserve, but still. The wonderful Web site will bring you up to speed on the entire slice of life. It was fun while it lasted.

Beer Can Bob (www.beercanbob.com)

Beer Can Bob is not a real Bob (as near as we can tell, at any rate) but we have seen the beer can with a cartoon of a Bob, eye-patch and all. The idea is that anyone can submit photographs to this site, whether "funny or stupid," just so long as BCB is featured in the shot. When asked why they chose the name Beer Can Bob, Bob (or someone who looks like him) replied that www.TakeStupidPicturesAndSendThemToUsPlease.com was way too long. Plus the fact that Bob's Great-Great-Great Grand Father once stated that should "someone in this damn family ever creates a Web site, they by God better name it Beer Can Bob." And that was years before the Internet had even been created!

Books Read (www.csr.utexas.edu/personal/leuliette/ fw_table_home.html)

Eric Leuliette works at the Center for Space Research, University of Texas at Austin. We do not know much else about him, save for the fact that he likes to read books. He really likes to read books. In fact over the past few years he has read 1783 books, with an average of 43.81 pages read each day. Not only has Eric read all these books, but he has also somehow found the time to document and annotate the books he has read. All that information can be found at this site, complete with graphs and other charts.

An Interview with Randy Newman (www.zdnet.com/yil/newman)

Randy Newman is not the most misunderstood man in America, but he might well be in the Top 20. It is of course ironic that his one big hit ("Short People") should also be responsible for the bulk of the misunderstandings most people have about the man and his music. Still, perhaps the notoriety encouraged at least a few souls to discover the pure joy of such Newman classics as "Louisiana 1927," "Sail Away" and "Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father," to name but a few. Here Mr. Newman talks to Yahoo Internet Life about his rather remarkable career that includes a wonderful box set, a slew of movie soundtracks and a few rather sly observations about life, both his and ours.

No Parole Peltier Association (www.noparolepeltier.com)

We can't remember ever seeing a Web site created for the single purpose of advocating that someone should not receive parole, but a group calling itself No Parole Peltier Association (NPPA) has done just that. Their heading states that they "will forego political rhetoric and name-calling and concentrate on the record of the events reviewed" in their efforts to prove their "case" that Leonard Peltier should remain in prison for crimes most people, not just the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC), assert he did not commit. In fact the LPDC are of the opinion that the site was created by the FBI. Peltier's parole hearing will take place at Leavenworth, Kansas on June 12, 2000.
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