Benting -- Home
Myself, I, etc.
Life Cycle ride
Links, we have links...
Here's your opportunity to escape from my site
something more interesting.
Oh -- by the way, please
if you find that any of these links are broken. I really don't intend
to send you to never-never land (or to present you with random 404
errors) but sometimes these people don't consult with me before
changing their pages. (How rude!)
Friends, family, countrymen. (Ahem. Sorry 'bout
Couldn't resist...) Of course, this is a tad thin since many of my
friends don't have web pages yet. So if you know me and have a web page
you'd like to include, feel free to
so that I can link you in.
Warton: Might as well start with the most important one! (To
that is.) We've been married since 1991.
Warton: Peter and I have been friends since well before
and I started going out. Here's his family's page.
Several people across the political spectrum have
opinions about, say, whether the US budget deficit is too large or too
small without a) knowing what the current value is in raw dollars b)
knowing what it's been historically or c) knowing that raw dollars are
pretty useless and that tracking as percentage of GDP is more
informative. But hey, it's hard work to figure out the data!
So most people get someone who agrees with their uninformed
opinion to select a subset of data that matches their shared opinion
and ignore anything that doesn't agree with them because they "just
know" what's going on. (Do I sound cranky yet?)
wandering around sites that provide the raw data instead of just
confirming your existing opinion... (And it's interesting to
out what's really going on in the world.)
Office: Americans are paying for the raw,
nonpartisan data to
advise our legislators (who frequently choose to pick-and-choose the
bits they like to hear...) In particular, wander around a Google search of their site
or a very
useful doc (that recently got buried) to get a sense of what
trends really are.
US Census Statistical Abstract: This is another meta-data
showing details of the current state of the country. (Of
course, getting data into your hands isn't a priority, so I see they've
killed the program now. <grrrr>) This is a wealth of
help learn more about the world we live in.
Statistics: Everyone seems more concerned about crime and
their kids under lock and key. But what's really been
to crime rates? Take a look at, for example, here.
Those who know Margaret and I also know that we
least four or five weekends a year at the races -- mostly for
Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Champ Car races (formerly known
as Indy Car races.) However, we do follow Formula One, GT cars, touring
cars, and several other series as well. (Sorry, no NASCAR, though. And
definitely no trucks.)
Now, I know that I'm falling into the typical male
stereotype here, and that SF can be narrow and escapist and trashy and
just bad literature. However, I only read that trashy stuff
occasionally because it's fun -- and that's the point. While
could try to impress you with literary merit of some of the other great
works I've read, I'd rather point to the material from which I derive
the most pleasure in reading.
Iain Banks wrote some amazing (and occasionally disturbing) science
fiction. His "Culture" novels have been some of the most enjoyable
books Margaret and I have read in some time. (His standard fiction
works tend more towards the disturbing, though. For the foreseeable
future, you can easily tell the difference because the Sci-Fi work is
published as Iain M. Banks, while the straight fiction is published as
just Iain Banks. Shelf position is not always reliable.)
Coming from a background in animal communication, Julie Czerneda writes
about some of the most incredibly believable aliens ever described with
a good sense of story.
Alan Gardner: His book Expendable
was an amazing
piece of work, and now that I've read Commitment Hour,
I'm even more impressed. This is some great storytelling in an
Stephenson: From the cyberpunk genre, comes the man who had
nerve to call his lead character in Snow Crash"Hiro
Protagonist." Between his Stephenson work and his non-cyberpunk writing
(apparently done with his uncle) as "Stephen Bury", Stephenson is
another of the best SF writers. He's now turning from "cryptopunk" with
his Cryptonimicon to historical fiction (that's tied into Cryptonomicon
in several ways) with his "Baroque Cycle" including Quicksilver,
Confusion, and The System of the World.
I was a writer, I'd despair after reading Stephenson because he writes
with almost exactly the voice I'd want to use, but does a better job of
researching the details.
Reynolds: The two words most used to describe his writing
be "space opera", which implies a few things that I don't necessarily
get. But he's written brilliant and complex storylines and
work at the European Space Agency helped to keep him grounded in
Random musical sites from artists I enjoy
and really want to encourage. (The relatively well-known groups or
artists like Yes, Rush, Buddy Rich, King Crimson, Thelonius Monk, Dizzy
Gillespie, Max Roach, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, etc,
won't show up here since I figure that you know how to find them on
Levin: You probably haven't heard of him, but you probably
heard him. (Just check out the discography
you don't believe me.) I first ran across him in his bass work with
King Crimson, but he's been just about everywhere...
I first (knowingly) heard Terry Bozzio on Jeff Beck's
album. The guy's an absolutely amazing drummer, and his albums with
Tony Levin and Steve Stevens are breathtaking. He's got an amazing
ability to play tonal drums and metals melodically in addition to just
being a brutal player.
OK -- so I was a percussionist in a past life. (Even if I haven't
played in nearly 20 years now.) First with Yes, then with King Crimson,
and now in his jazz albums (both solo and with his group Earthworks),
his style has consistently impressed me. Definitely NOT your standard
rock drummer. (Whatever that is...)
Guitar Trio: Born from Robert Fripp's League of Crafty
albums (a way to put his Guitar
Craft sessions to work), the CGT has a truly eclectic style.
Bach that would do Segovia proud to the Ventures, these guys are all
I was sitting at the listening station at a record store (remember
those) a few years ago and noticed an album
cute Japanese girl on it that was being heavily promoted.
Thinking it was yet another musician trading on her looks, I
scanned the barcode with low expectations. Within about 30
seconds, I was completely blown away. Her technique is
astonishing, and her band was rock-solid. Her live
with her SonicBloom band are full-blast romps that leave you exhausted
just watching them.
Speaking of instrumental rock and jazz, the former guitarist from the
Police has been doing solo albums of both. His latest albums are
tributes to Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus. (Once again, Tony Levin
pops up. He's turning into a theme in my favorite music...)
So, another bass player this time. This one a classic who's worked with
Miles Davis and Chick Corea. His band includes Robin Eubanks
-- a trombonist
with beautiful tone.
His Strange Cargo series showed up as part of the
No Speak series (same as Stewart Copeland's The
Other Cliff-Hangers.) Once again, showing my affinity for
without vocals. On top of that, he's a very well-known producer having
worked for Madonna, Sting, and Peter Gabriel (among others.)
If you remember him, it's probably as signer of piano ditties like The
Way It Is that were popular in the late '80s when he recorded with his
group The Range. But he certainly hasn't been sitting still since then.
Another exception to my instrumental fixations. Kevin Gilbert was a
highly-talented multi-instrumentalist who I first heard playing in a
band called Toy Matinee in around 1990. His lyrics
were sharp and intelligent (and occasionally quite bitter) and his
talent was unmistakable. Unfortunately, he was killed in an accident at
home in about 1996, after releasing only one solo album. His posthumous
album Shaming of the True was just nominated for a
album was actually quite bitter as part of his reaction to Sheryl
Crow's career -- particularly instances where she appeared to take
credit for the work of him and others in the so-called "Tuesday Night
Music Club". (It also seemed to tally with his view of "selling out" as
the way to success in the music business.)
My high school stage band conductor (Darrell Meisenheimer) brought in a
couple Don Ellis albums when I was a junior. The mere idea of playing
19 beats to the bar was pretty hip to a young drummer, but the amazing
thing was that it didn't seem to be just a gimmick. (Although most of
his music was much more traditional -- say 5/4 or 7/8 time.) He later
did the score for the French Connection, but his jazz big band was one
of the most amazing things I've ever heard.
Unclassifiable stuff that I have found while
through the web.
Last updated on 03 May 2017.
Other Peaple Accomplished When They Were Your Age: A good way
feel that you'd wasted a chunk of your life...
PowerPoint Presentation: And they say that PowerPoint is
Quiz: The US is (or ought to be) easy for most Americans. How
Africa or even Europe?
Beloit Mindset: Beloit College in Wisconson puts out a
list of what to expect from the latest set of freshmen. It's a
brilliant (if slightly painful) bit of perspective.
- The Maine
Solar System Model: I used to live in Presque Isle, so I was
pleased to see UMPI put up this scale-model of the solar system.
US Supreme Court Multimedia. Including the Supreme Court's Greatest
Hits (vol 2). The Supreme Court is a vital part of the government in
the US, and too many people don't understand how it works. Here's a
great place to start learning.
of the Great War: Amazing pictures from WWI. (The War to End
Picassohead: No further comment needed.
MIT Hacks Page:
Creative geeks occasionally need to blow off some steam. Here's some of
the ways that they do it...
and Letters Daily:
This is one attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff on the 'net.
I'm checking it out almost daily these days since it's got such a good
group of articles. Even if you don't like the current content of
article links that it presents, the links down the left frame alone are
nice to have. It's one place to get ideas from several perspectives --
another use to which the 'net is particularly well-suited.
Barry's Blog: This has brightened my day for weeks in a row
(Now that he no longer writes a column, this is the best we can get.)
Review: The sister site to Arts and Letters Daily, this time
Science and Technology. (In case you hadn't guessed.)
Picture of the Day: From the folks who brought you the space
program -- random pictures from space or involving space. Don't get
lost in the archives... Like a true-color
of earth from space (without clouds) or the Earth
at night form space (again, without clouds).
Not to Talk -- Conversational Terrorism: Civilized discourse
to be a lost art these days. This site points out some of the cheap
tricks used to "win" arguments. (While the style and examples aren't
the greatest, the goal is certainly admirable. For a deeper discussion,
see also Carl
Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit for discussions of
fallacies such as ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments and of
their use and abuse in discussion.) You'd be amazed (and depressed) at
how many people who you otherwise respect feel free to use these cheap
tricks to sound persuasive. More depressing is how many people seem to
be persuaded by such arguments...
Atlas of the 20th Century: Another "only on the web" site. A
librarian decides to start collecting information and putting it onto
the web. The results are impressive.
Congress: Speaking of the US government, here's some
exhibitions. From Pat
Oliphant's political cartoons to some amazing
photographs or Russia between 1909 and 1915.(Yes, color
from almost 100 years ago, made using a special plate-glass process.)
from the WPA: I hope we don't see another depression in the
century or so. But I also hope that if we do, we find ways to get
people back to work like the WPA did.
Philosophy Quiz: A quiz site that asks you to answer several
questions, then uses your answers to give you an idea of how closely
you compare to several religious and philosophical thinkers. (They also
have a religion
Political Compass: I've always believed that most left-right
is overly simplistic. Here's a quiz that uses your answers to place you
on the "traditional" left-right axis, but also on an
authoritarian-libertarian cross-axis. In a similar vein, the
Libertarians have a shorter
version of the same quiz that seems to be very even-handed in
Internet Classics Archive: Several public-domain classics,
to you by MIT. (And thanks to our friends in congress suspending the
entry of works into the public domain, many more modern books will
never show up here.)(Certainly not if Disney and other media companies
have their way. See this
for some details about some other problems the content companies want
to inflict on us. Not that piracy is a good thing, but it's illegal
already. Taking away my right to backup data on a CD won't help.)
Engines: Simple illustrations of how various types of engines
(It may take a while for the animated pictures to download and start
moving on screen, but it's well worth it.)
This describes the effects of the Earth's elliptical orbit on the sun's
path, and explains the odd figure-eight pattern that appears on some
- The CIA
Fact Book: Did you ever wonder how large various other
are compared to places in the United States that you know? Here's
the answer. Along with many other details you might want to know about
different countries. (See also: Mapfight for the answer to the size question.)
course, the most popular search engine on the web today. (They're also
my employer, so be warned of the conflict of interest...) The Zeitgeist
shows what people
are looking for...
Examples of the world's writing systems past and present.
OK -- so you remember some rhyme or game from your youth, but can't
remember the details. Well, they're online now.
English-to-American Dictionary: Two countries divided by a
Memory: From the Library of Congress comes this collection of
historical documents. It's an astounding amount of what historians call
"primary source" documents all available for free thanks to the US
Roman Empire: Any time one of us Americans wants to talk like
so important to the world or that modern people are so evil and
horrible, I want to remind them that the Romans still have us beat on
most counts. But most of us don't know enough about them to get an
idea. Here's a good start.
Trip: 1937: And you thought it was tough to drive a few
miles today. Here's the photo archive of a *very* ambitious trip.
Lincoln, Nebraska to Los Angeles and back before the Interstate Highway
Baby Name Wizard: A cool little site taking census data to
popularity of names over time.