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It’s been hot. Really hot. The lethal East Coast heat wave may be
technically “over” (although when 94 degrees is hailed as a great
relief, I feel something is a mite peculiar) but it’s left everyone I
know enervated and sulky. Nobody seems to have the energy to do much
more than drink Negronis and float around the nearest cool body of
water. Even at their air-conditioned offices, everyone in New York City
is listless and demoralized. In short, this is a good time to waste
time. Here are a few utterly unproductive ways to fritter yours away,
surfing. Your boss won’t care; she’s very likely doing the same thing.


If Salon looks boring today, God forbid

Imagine (if you can) something way, way more idiosyncratic and
unstructured than this column, and you’ll have a decent approximation of
a weblog — a kind of combination personal journal and home page,
updated daily or nearly so with anything its creator sees fit to offer
up. Some are themed, some are artistically designed, and many are just
odd. But any of them can hoist you out of your online groove and send
you off surfing hitherto unfamiliar regions of cyberspace, where the
wild things are.


Lemon Yellow

is one of the better
offerings, linking you to a pleasantly meandering, artistic potluck of
whatever happens to be floating Heather’s boat today.

Julienne.com

favors bizarre-but-true breaking
news stories (“Fat Man Creates

Bloody Mess

in Electric Chair’s Inaugural
Shock”);

BeNiceToBears

also
traffics in the strange and, occasionally, gross. Australia’s


Virulent Memes

is worth an
occasional check-out.


NQPAOFU

(“Notes, Quotes,
Provocations, and Other Fair Use”) is pretty darned Europostmodern, but
in a nice way.

My favorite so far, I think, is the terrific

Flutterby
; there just aren’t many other places you’ll
see an homage to the Declaration of Independence sharing Web space with
a pointed condemnation of the double standard in allotting NC-17 and R
ratings to movie scenes that show women’s pleasure (strict) versus those
that show men’s (lax). Always piquant, it frequently includes selections
from the best offerings of several other weblogs.


A dog! A panic in a pagoda!

What’s a palindrome? It’s a word or group of words that reads the
same forward as backward — like “pop” or “radar” or “Straw? No, too
stupid a fad. I put soot on warts.” That’s really it — either you
instantly see why this is an interesting phenomenon, or you don’t, in
which case I can’t help you. I can only point out that the ancient
Greeks enjoyed the form, as can be seen from their frequent inscription
of “Nipson anomemata me monan opsin” (“Wash the sin as well as the
face”) on fountains. And when the ancient Greeks have given a thing the
thumbs-up, that is generally a sign that the thing may be worth
contemplating. So, with no further excuses, onward and upward to the
palindrome sites.


The Palindromist
, which calls
itself “The world’s greatest palindrome magazine,” is available by mail
only, but has placed online a selection of


classic

palindromes as
well as a few

political

howlers (“Rail, rotund Al Gore! Hero, glad nut, or liar?”) The magazine
welcomes submissions of original palindromes by e-mail. For a broader if
less well-credited selection of palindromes, try

this

amusing, alphabetized
compendium, or visit

Leo’s Palindrome Collection
, which includes palindromes in
two or three dozen other languages besides

English
. Those born under
the sign of Pisces might seek out the negligible yet oddly moving


Fishy Palindrome Page
. Finally,
I am pleased to present a fully operational palindromic URL:


Knot bad

The Boy Scouts of Troop 9 in Billings, Mont., deserve a great big
merit badge for this project. Their site teaches you to tie nine useful
types of

knots
, such as
the trucker’s hitch and the sheep shank. For each knot there’s an
animated demonstration, a photograph of the finished knot, and written
instructions. Other Boy Scouts, including this

English

troop, have gotten
into the act with similar knot sites, but from what I can tell it looks
as if the Billings boys were the first.

If the Boy Scouts get you interested in this whole knot thing, check
out Peter Suber’s truly incredible compendium of

knot-tying lore and
links
. And I do mean
“incredible.” Till I saw it, for instance, I had no idea that there
exists an

International Guild of Knot Tyers
: “This is the organization to join if you
are a serious knot tyer. Its journal,

Knotting Matters
, is the
only English-language print journal to cover this field.” Um, OK.
Anyhow, Suber can also guide you to authoritative online resources
regarding ship-rigging; falconers’ nets; sled dogs’ harnesses; neckties;
weaving knots; fishing knots; boating knots; knots for practicing
bondage safely; the Japanese martial art of


nunchaku
,
as well as the traditional samurai art of


hojojutsu
, or restraint
(speaking of bondage, kids, this one’s a real doozy); knot mathematics
and knot theory; Celtic knot art; and a load of knot-related software
and fonts and other stuff. And, believe it or not, that is a very
heavily edited list. I have rarely seen a links page as comprehensive
(not to say obsessive) as Suber’s, and I most humbly doff my hat to him.


Still thirsty?

By and large, I find

Yahoo! Internet Life

offers kind of a patchy surfing
experience, but it does pick out a new “pretty strange site of the day”
every weekday and quite a decent proportion of its choices qualify as
legitimately peculiar. By clicking on the

Strange-O-Matic
, you’ll arrive at a
randomly selected site out of its voluminous archives. Always good for a
little flutter when you’ve beaten your beaten path one too many times.

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