Steve Benting


Margaret-and-Steve.org

Steve Benting -- Home

Me, Myself, I, etc.

Obligatory Links Page

Pictures

Ann's graduation 

AIDS Life Cycle ride

Links, we have links...

Here's your opportunity to escape from my site into 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!)


Personal Links

Friends, family, countrymen. (Ahem. Sorry 'bout that. 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.

  • Margaret Warton: Might as well start with the most important one! (To me, that is.)  We've been married since 1991.
  • Peter Warton: Peter and I have been friends since well before Margaret and I started going out. Here's his family's page.

Data

Several people across the political spectrum have strong 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?)  It's worth wandering around sites that provide the raw data instead of just confirming your existing opinion...  (And it's interesting to work out what's really going on in the world.)

  • Congressional Budget 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.
  • The US Census Statistical Abstract: This is another meta-data source, 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 data to help learn more about the world we live in.
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics: Everyone seems more concerned about crime and keeps their kids under lock and key.  But what's really been happening to crime rates?  Take a look at, for example, here.

Racing Links

Those who know Margaret and I also know that we spend at 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.)

Science Fiction

Now, I know that I'm falling into the typical male geek 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 I 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: 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.)
  • Julie Czerneda: 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.
  • James 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 interesting universe.
  • Neal Stephenson: From the cyberpunk genre, comes the man who had the 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, The Confusion, and The System of the World. If 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.
  • Alastair Reynolds: The two words most used to describe his writing seem to be "space opera", which implies a few things that I don't necessarily get.  But he's written brilliant and complex storylines and his work at the European Space Agency helped to keep him grounded in reality.

Music

Random musical sites from artists I enjoy listening to 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 your own.)

  • Tony Levin: You probably haven't heard of him, but you probably have heard him. (Just check out the discography if you don't believe me.) I first ran across him in his bass work with King Crimson, but he's been just about everywhere...
  • Terry Bozzio: I first (knowingly) heard Terry Bozzio on Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop 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.
  • Bill Bruford: 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...)
  • The California Guitar Trio: Born from Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists albums (a way to put his Guitar Craft sessions to work), the CGT has a truly eclectic style. From Bach that would do Segovia proud to the Ventures, these guys are all over it.
  • Hiromi Uehara: I was sitting at the listening station at a record store (remember those) a few years ago and noticed an album with a 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 performances with her SonicBloom band are full-blast romps that leave you exhausted just watching them.
  • Andy Summers: 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...)
  • Dave Holland: 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.
  • William Orbit: His Strange Cargo series showed up as part of the old IRS No Speak series (same as Stewart Copeland's The Equalizer and Other Cliff-Hangers.) Once again, showing my affinity for music without vocals. On top of that, he's a very well-known producer having worked for Madonna, Sting, and Peter Gabriel (among others.)
  • Bruce Hornsby: 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.
  • Kevin Gilbert: 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 grammy. The 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.)
  • Don Ellis: 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. 

Random

Unclassifiable stuff that I have found while drifting through the web.

  • Things Other Peaple Accomplished When They Were Your Age: A good way to feel that you'd wasted a chunk of your life...
  • Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation: And they say that PowerPoint is limiting.
  • Geography Quiz: The US is (or ought to be) easy for most Americans. How about Africa or even Europe?
  • The Beloit Mindset: Beloit College in Wisconson puts out a "Mindset" 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.
  • Oyez: 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.
  • Photos of the Great War: Amazing pictures from WWI. (The War to End All Wars indeed...)
  • Mr. Picassohead: No further comment needed.
  • The MIT Hacks Page: Creative geeks occasionally need to blow off some steam. Here's some of the ways that they do it...
  • Arts 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.
  • Dave Barry's Blog: This has brightened my day for weeks in a row now. (Now that he no longer writes a column, this is the best we can get.)
  • SciTech Daily Review: The sister site to Arts and Letters Daily, this time for Science and Technology. (In case you hadn't guessed.)
  • Astronomy 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 image of earth from space (without clouds) or the Earth at night form space (again, without clouds).
  • How Not to Talk -- Conversational Terrorism: Civilized discourse seems 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 logical 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...
  • Historical 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.
  • The Library of Congress: Speaking of the US government, here's some impressive exhibitions. From Pat Oliphant's political cartoons to some amazing color photographs or Russia between 1909 and 1915.(Yes, color photographs from almost 100 years ago, made using a special plate-glass process.)
  • Posters from the WPA: I hope we don't see another depression in the next century or so. But I also hope that if we do, we find ways to get people back to work like the WPA did.
  • SelectSmart 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 quiz.)
  • The Political Compass: I've always believed that most left-right debate 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 its descriptions.
  • The Internet Classics Archive: Several public-domain classics, brought 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.)
  • Animated Engines: Simple illustrations of how various types of engines work. (It may take a while for the animated pictures to download and start moving on screen, but it's well worth it.)
  • The Analemma: 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 globes...
  • The CIA World Fact Book: Did you ever wonder how large various other countries 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.)
  • Google Zeitgeist: Google is, of 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...
  • Omniglot: Examples of the world's writing systems past and present.
  • Kids games: OK -- so you remember some rhyme or game from your youth, but can't remember the details. Well, they're online now.
  • The English-to-American Dictionary: Two countries divided by a common language, indeed...
  • American 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 government.
  • The Roman Empire: Any time one of us Americans wants to talk like we're 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.
  • Road Trip: 1937: And you thought it was tough to drive a few hundred miles today. Here's the photo archive of a *very* ambitious trip. Lincoln, Nebraska to Los Angeles and back before the Interstate Highway system.
  • The Baby Name Wizard: A cool little site taking census data to show the popularity of names over time.
This page by , using KompoZer. Last updated on 03 May 2017.