The Official Newsletter of Stoler and Journal of the Institute of Analog Studies
8 December 2001 -- Volume 1, Letter L:

All the King's horses... STOLERN MOMENTS

Extreme Newslettering!

and all the King's men, sang 'Louie, Louie'

Stoler Agrees to Give Up Some Rights, Jobs

Responding to the disorder that has begun to creep into the domain of and his own life, Stoler, by the grace of God, King and Defender of the Faith, has decided to relax his Before...and aftergrip on total autocratic power. "I still don't want to be restrained in an institution, I mean, by a constitution, much as love Old Ironsides. And I really am in favor of respecting constitutions. But I'm realizing that I could use a Prime Minister, if not a pagan priest, as long as he or she doesn't depose me the way Premier Mohammad Daud Khan did King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan in 1973, thus starting all the trouble, or, for that matter, the way Paula Jones's lawyers deposed Bill Clinton during her lawsuit. Or tried to. Or the book formerly known as The Prince And maybe a Chancellor of the Exchequer would be useful, to check on my exes. Or my excess. Basically, I need someone to run the business end of this thing, get some real hosting and advertising, take care of copyrights and other legal matters, bail me out of jail and other tense situations (like Carrie does for her boss in Frank Miller's Batman comics), and allow me more time, and steady income, to read, set broad policies, attend ceremonies, make silly observations, fill out my insurance forms that have been sitting on my desk for six months, and, of course, hang out with Beth. If you are interested in this job, email me. The nice thing about having a Prime Minister forming a government is that you can hear in the news that "the government has collapsed" and it doesn't mean rioting in the streets, just new Parliamentary elections. Well, maybe a little rioting. I can't wait to see the emergence of all sorts of parties, and constantly shifting analog coalitions like in Italy, all ruled by a megalomaniac media lord like me."

Exchanging at pi to the dollarMeanwhile, in the sort of move having a cooler-headed Prime Minister might have averted, Stoler has been led by the discovery near his home of a new lode of metal first to devalue the currency based on it, the slug, and second, to introduce a new coin to join the two-slug and seven-slug pieces already in circulation. It will be worth thirteen slugs, and can be ordered in fine proof condition from the Junior Mint. "The denomination values are very deliberately chosen," Stoler commented, "In accordance with the Goldbach Conjecture that any number can be expressed as the sum of two primes. And we assure you, that if you give us your gold in exchange for our coins, you will never get your gold back, and that's not conjecture."

Stoler Cloned!

Scientists at a small company in Worcester, Mass. (where Rachel used to live) announced this week that they had cloned human embryos. What they did not reveal was the person whose genetic material the embryos actually contained. The answer, horribly but inevitably, is Stoler. How do we know this? "Embryos are primitive and undeveloped in every sense, including that of humor," said one researcher, "But these keep making fun of the culture and annoying all the other cells in the test tube. They will surely develop into annoying child Stolers, and then equally annoying adult Stolers!"

Scientist and crazed hunchback lab assistant show off the latest bitchin' botched biotech batch

The choice of clonee came as a surprise to scientists, lawmakers, and ethicists. Randy Cohen, who despite a lack of any apparent credential presumes to pontificate in the pages of The New York Times Magazine on what is permissable for wealthy guiltridden urbanites whose problems don't really amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, was heard to lament, "No, not Stoler! Not the guy who recognizes me for the pompous twit that I am because he knows that morality is really what you can get away with! If there were more of him, they'd force the Times to use my space for something useful, like a column correcting all the errors Safire makes in his "On Language" column on the previous page, and I'd have to be a high school guidance counselor again!" Others wondered why those science geniuses couldn't have cloned someone useful, like Beth or Oshi. "At least those two can use tools and computers," commented one who spoke for many, as Stoler might soon be able to do.

Stoler clones will run all the same software as the original Stoler, but cost less.

Chalices, Restaurant

Soon, the only kind of glasses Beth will needOn Thanksgiving, blissfully exhausted from staying up all night to produce the last issue of STOLERN MOMENTS and then riding all the way up Geary Blvd. with a bag full of nice holiday clothes, Stoler went with Beth and Donna for midday dinner at the Beach Chalet Restaurant, which looks out to the less than peaceful, storm-roiled Pacific Ocean. The food was adequate, from the squash soup that looked as if a seagull had gone (or guan) by overhead, to the oddly similar looking nutty chocolate pecan pie, but there were no seconds, and worse, no leftovers. What other point to the Thanksgiving meal IS there than to reexperience it cold or reheated for the next week? On the other hand, there weren't any dishes to wash either.

Can you see us there in the circle? Nothing between here and Tokyo... It was like warm baby food... Not quite as good as what I'd sneak when I worked at Le Chateau..

So this turkey got stuffed, and though he couldn't find his Arlo Guthrie tape he still had a meal that couldn't be beat, and he didn't even get arrested. Or drafted. Yet.

Then Stoler went home and turned on his holiday illumination, draped around the window and door of his soft woody living/bedroom.

Don't worry, Mom, I'm not getting a tree.

Stoler Adopts Stray Computer

Because Stoler's landlord won't allow him to have a beautiful cat like Kia or Kyle or Carmen, he fulfills his need for furriness with stuffed animals and for purriness by taking in and caring for the abandoned computers he finds cold, wet, and frightened on the street. (In fact, he's buying a house in Marin just to accommodate over two hundred of them in their own filth and squalor.) "It's so sad to see a working computer, one that was at one time the multi-thousand-dollar state of the art, the pride of the industry, made obsolete by Moore's Law sitting tossed out by the dumpster. It's like Tom Wolfe's description, on the third page of 'The Right Stuff', of the tragedy of seeing a confident, well-liked, highly-educated and -trained test pilot and human being turned into a piece of smoking meat in a plane crash. I have a pretty new computer, but I can generally find a use for an old one. They don't cost that much to feed, though they do tend to occupy horizontal spaces and refuse to move, and to inexplicably ignore you a lot, but maybe that's when they're by Windows or in the Sun."

Stoler has set up this newest old computer, a 486 machine with 16 Mb RAM, a 500 Mb hard disk, a hurt paw and a floppy drive that doesn't seem to work, between his bed and his stereo shelves. "It's a computer's favorite warm place to sit, and I can use the CD drive as the player for my stereo, if I ever get any music CDs, and I extended the keyboard cord so I could process words and get online without getting out of bed. And so can Bear." Three button mouse, three button jacketStoler, however, is a bit annoyed by the constant fan hum of the new machine, though he likes the snap, crackle, and pop of the hard drive that suggests that computation is a Babbagian mechanical process. "If they have visual screen savers, why not audio ones? Why not have computers mimic the best sound in the world, the purring of cats, when not in use? You just have to generate a constant tone of 26 Hz, or 27 to 44, or 22, depending on whom you consult. I guess if you really want to know what is the frequency, you should ask Dan Rather. I still would much rather have a cat; with those furry coats, they have infinitely better soft wear."

Who Controls the Past...

Ever notice that each year, when the phone company puts out new white and yellow pages, they call upon you, with some hollow-sounding environmental rationale, to turn in, "recycle", your old phone books? They tell us to keep them only until a certain date as if they were spoilage-prone dairy products? Have you ever wondered the real reason? Well, the STOLERN MOMENTS on-your-side investigative team did. They had also noticed how hard it is, if someone has mentioned that there actually is an interesting article in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle, or you just realized you need a week's worth TV listings and other important information, to get a leftover copy by Monday afternoon. The boxes and racks contain only the new edition. But it's not that the whole newspaper has sold out. (Well...) "They come and pick them up," said a convenience-store owner who has enough troubles in the current climate of fear without having his name mentioned here. "Who?" we asked. "The guys in the trucks...."

Obviously, there is something going on here, and not just a sort of informational version of the "planned obsolescence" strategy perfected by Detroit carmakers in the 50's. Remember how in Orwell's "Nineteen Eight-Four"(Stoler's bible), the all-powerful Party controlled all records of the past, and employed people like the protagonist Winston to "correct" them to accord with and support the totalitarian oligarchy's version of the present and future? Do you suspect that's what's going on here? Why else would they not want you to keep old directories, and know who used to live where and what their numbers were before they unlisted them? Do they want us to forget what things used to be like? Whom do you trust less than the local phone companies (who can't seem to keep your DSL connected and let the FBI put Carnivore at the switching station) or Hearst publishing?

We must fight this. Like Stoler, we must save old encyclopedias (including yearly supplements), and newspapers (and not just the old Times Book Reviews we swear we'll read someday) and, of course, phone books. Magazines, too -- bathrooms are a good place for them -- and you now have another excuse not to throw away your old Playboys even though you have a hot girlfriend. ("I just read it for the historical records, honey.")

Growing up with Britannica made me what I am today It's a genetic trait I used to have five years' worth OK, some of these are catalogs
And while you're at it, support somewhat pretentious but generally on the money writer (of "Vox", Monica Lewinsky's favorite book) and former Bayarea resident Nicholson Baker in his crusade to preserve original, real, easily photocopiable newspapers from microfilming and forced viewing on those damn machines that always jam when you try to print and cost so much more per page anyway. You can't trust public libraries; they're run by the government.

There's also another danger. Now most repositories of information and documents about the past are on computer servers. On the one hand, this permits easier access and searching for those with machines that can act as clients, but it puts the data in a highly fluid and changeable form, and concentrates them (yes, plural!) in the hands of a few, often large companies or governmental institutions. It's simply too tempting to alter electronic records. Which is why we at STOLERN MOMENTS promise you that once each issue is posted, it is never changed, no matter what grammatical, factual, or programming errors it might contain. Never do we update and backdate so we appear to have been right, nor will we, nor try to go back in time and change the past or insert anchors for things we realize later we'd like to link to specifically, the way the temporal technicians of Isaac Asimov's "The End of Eternity" were extending their time travelling "tube" system into ages before it was actually built. This is why if you follow one of our links to something in a previous issue, you often have to scroll down to find what the relevant (or more likely, rather irrelevant) reference is; authenticity often requires inconvenience; we won't sell out truth for comfort. No, like Berenger in Ionesco's "Rhinoceros", or the U.S. at Unesco's Conference on the New World Information Order, we will not change. Our newsletter will always be objectively, permanently true exactly half the time, and though you'll still have to guess which half, we'll never in the slightest alter it.

Carmen Likes Her Box...

But she's usually roaming and zipping around..

And Beth Likes Hers!

Got the part after Kim Basinger broke her contract and got sued

Speaking of the Box...

Need to put some shelves in if I'm going to get the bottom ones out

Stoler has discovered that the big box he found behind the building, lugged upstairs with the help of the guy in 206, and used as part of his Halloween costume, makes a perfect place to stack his memorabilia storage bins!

Harry Potter, Eat Your Heart Out

It's like the paintbrush tool

The wizard of the moment may have a magic broom, but Stoler's amazing mop cleans away years of reddish grime, leaving beautiful grey-white tile.


Just this once, even about his business!

Dear Stoler:

How do you do it?

J.C., San Francisco

Dear J.C.:
I'm often asked this; and since I have no Kermit the Frog to tell me, "Fozzie, you can't tell them everything, you'll bore the people reading this newsletter!" and suggest I hand over the screenplay instead, as in
The Muppet Movie, consider the following document to be the STOLERN MOMENTS equivalent of the book Gene Wilder finds in his grandfather's private library in Young Frankenstein.
Now, we take seriously our place firmly in the low-budget newsletter tradition, since we're not earning any money off STOLERN MOMENTS (or off much else for that matter.) In fact, we can assure you, even bring in the ASPCA to attest, that no bank accounts were harmed, no money spent, in the making of this site. Like Ed Wood, we tend to be easily satisfied with whatever cheap effects we can achieve. It's story that's important.
And we have certain parameters. We try not to use any copyrighted images unless we really have to, preferring to take our own grainy under- or overexposed pictures ourselves with our little cheap digital camera Buy the XB10 Omnipresent Popup Peeping Tom Voyeur Cam to spy on chicks today!Mark the Mac guy downstairs was throwing this away or scan somewhat better old chemical photos on our flatbed scanner. It would just be too easy to grab things from online -- or perhaps too hard, considering the limitations of Google image search -- and we like the idea that you can know we really experienced all the things we show, that they are really out there, if not necessarily quite as we say they are. When things can be faked too easily (just the reverse of what David Hockney is accusing all those artists of doing), no one believes in anything, nor has the respect for the real that allows them to be taken in. And though we do modify some pictures electronically, we're so lame at it and unwilling to learn better graphics software that you can always pretty much tell, and that just adds to the humor, right? Speaking of humor, we know that, like meaning, it is triangular, and can only be understood by showing the relationship between a more known and a less known point from third fixed and well-mapped one. (When two objects line up in your sight, it says as much about your position as about those of the two objects.) So it's important that you understand what we're obscurely referring to. Most of the news, historical, and cultural events whose names we drop actually happened, and you'd know about them if you also were unemployed and could read the papers, surf the Web, and listen to the radio all day. We try to explain the particularly recondite ones, if we have time and energy (always required for information) to find or take or fake the pictures and track down the links to online articles. (Surly physicality always intrudes into the ethereal empyrean sphere of pure information.) The rest, you can try to figure out yourself if you have the patience to try to follow our twisted cognitive processes, or look up (Google is just a click away, and the library a few blocks), or just feel inferior and annoyed about.
But were you mainly wondering where we get our ideas? Every idea comes from somewhere, since everything has a cause, even though some people show an a sense of aesthetic judgment that is so complex and inexplicable as to be indistinguishable from true and absolute creativity. So one must cruise through the sea of stimulus data, that which one encounters directly with sometimes easily deceived senses, that which one learns of through the sometimes unreliable general media, and that which one meets only metaphorically in the realms of gold of art and artifice, like a baleen whale wih its mouth open, straining out rare instances of information, interest, and coincidence like krill. Diane, I'm entering the town of Twin PeaksOne wanders the streets and byways of the beautiful Bayarea, reads and listens to the news constantly, and is no stranger to the video store and library. Because high ideaphoria can turn short-term memory Leonard Shelbyan (so that one can read a book and remember almost nothing it had to say, though it may have had little enough), one constantly makes notes on one's microcassette recorder, or if that is broken, tells them to one of those things nature has conveniently provided for remembering and repeating back one's voice. He used to squawk when squeezed, until I washed him

And through the accumulation of all these data points, patterns emerge, coincidences are noticed, which must be fulfilled. In an emergent feedback cycle, early observations might attune us to further noticings, or lead us to investigate certain ideas further, possibly using the research services of Lowry and Lint Information Retrieval, and spend months gathering evidence. When we are ready, we act. We act like writers. We start grouping the ambiguities, of sounds, words, images, and ideas, into paragraphs and articles, the way divisions become corps, with replacements bringing them up to full strength, or stones become walls, with support from the necessary structures and mortars, making them regular, uniform, polished, robust, and ready to stand against the world.
The computer is certainly useful. (We would have done this in the last century, but more slowly, if more elegantly.)The press gives blazing illumination even when caged. It's like a potter's wheel, for we here are really more craftsmen than artists. But we are close; we write our own HTML, and have even discovered the usefulness of indentation. (Click View, then Source, to see.) We try to make our articles follow the proven pattern of composers of symphonies, who state a theme, restate it, vary it, and then recapitulate it, or singer/writers of pop tunes with two verses, a bridge, and then a final verse, refrain, and fadeout. We have this obsession with varying our language and avoiding the repetition of words. Though familiar with the "Chicago Manual of Style" from last year's copyediting class, we insist, in many cases, on logical and organizational grounds, on putting commas and periods outside quote marks. And in a move calculated to drive MS Word's Grammar Check absolutely batty, we're even considering the Capitalization of significant or random Nouns in the Manner of Eighteenth Century Documents (or theyr Spellyng in the unstandardized Stile of pre-Websterian Writynge.)
But the real "way we do it", the reason we are able to do it, is because we have to. We are obsessed, compelled. In the seventh grade, Stoler tried to write a limerick about each member of his two-hundred plus class, and only stopped about three quarters of the way through because his Mom was afraid he'd get beaten up again and made him. We can't help bringing things to your attention any more than we can help noticing them. We certainly hope that we are like medieval fools and can get away with speaking the truth, because, like the framed artist in the film The Draughtsman's Contract, we can't help depicting the truth, even when it gets us in trouble by revealing our crimes. But the best reason for doing the newsletter is the classic, hammering-your-head one: God, does it feel good when you've finally uploaded, send out the announcement, and stopped. Then, like the Romans closing the doors of the Temple of Janus to signify the end of war, we can finally sign off, shut down, clean up our apartment, shave, sleep, see Beth, and stand on streetcorners, like Valerie Solanas in I Shot Andy Warhol, and desperately try to get people actually to "read our website,".
Your ob't,
Don't go forging my checks, OK?

I'd like to ASK STOLER a question

Take Me to the PARALLEL UNIVERSE Take Me to the ALTERNATE UNIVERSE Take me to BETH'S PAGE (Still, it moves!)
Go Back in Time The Stoler Files Take Me to Your Leader