Ralph Frattura's blog

2010 census data shows the way we were

A century ago, the average population density in the U.S. was 26 people per square mile. Now it's more than three times that. Here you can play around with the first data released in the 2010 U.S. Census -- see the numbers change in every census for the last century:

The Beatles era, according to iTunes

Beatles on iTunes

It’s interesting to see the world reacting to the second coming of the Beatles -- you know, on iTunes.  Judging by the media hoopla last week, the band’s arrival on iTunes, after years of legal wrangling, was the equivalent of its first steps onto Ed Sullivan’s stage in 1964.

At the moment, there are 24 Beatles singles among iTunes’ top 200, and all 17 of the new-to-iTunes albums are in the top 200.  They’re slipping from the high perches they held at Tuesday’s release, and that descent is sure to continue.

The buyers are Boomers, right?  Yeah, probably, but... Read more »

Should you consider buying a Kindle?

I've told friends I would share thoughts about Amazon’s Kindle e-reader after using it for a month.  There are one or two things you should consider before you buy, but this is a solid recommendation: I really like it.  It has made me a reader again.

The pluses are considerable.  Its cost.  The ease of ordering books and the number of books that are available.  Its size and weight.  Its battery life.

It has minuses, which might be significant in some situations but aren’t in mine. Read more »

PG&E's cynical Prop. 16

Many people supporting Proposition 16 (PG&E’s “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act”) would be horrified to learn what’s really going on.

Read the comments and letters from supporters and you’ll see they’re earnest, anti-government Americans who think they’re making some kind of stand for fundamental democracy.  They’ve been misled by the millions of dollars’ worth of TV commercials, as cynical and Orwellian a marketing approach as you’ll ever see.  Imagine, screwing people like this, taking away their right to choose, and framing it as protecting their right to vote. Read more »

Refurbishing a 1957 TV -- and making it digital

Old TV

Richard Howard, with a 1957 TV converted to play digital programming.

Kinda like the English cousin to my 25-year-old TV that's still running great, there's a man in England who has a 51-year-old TV that he paid to have converted to play digital programming.

If you want to ask why in the world spend money to bring a black and white 1957-model TV into the 21st century, Richard Howard has the answer.

His dad bought the TV when Howard was 8, and it was the family's first TV.  Read more »

A 7 iron that's really a bathroom


Say, Joe, what's going on under there? (It's the UroClub in action.)


The web site looks like a late April Fool's joke, but I don't think so. I think someone really hopes you'll pay $49.95 for the UroClub. It's a golf club with a screw top at the end of the shaft. When the need arises, a man can unscrew the cap and pee into the club.

It's OK -- it comes with a modesty-shield towel if you're bashful about things like this.

You probably have questions.  Read more »

The city of the future -- six months from now

Get ready for these changes, coming in the next six months:  Read more »

Things tattooed on your brain

Speedy Speedy Alka-Seltzer says, "Hi, kids!  Of course you remember me!"

Have you ever been surprised by the things you've got rattling around in your head ... things that serve no good purpose, you haven't thought about in years, but -- whoa! -- they suddenly appear?

For example, if you are more than 45 years old, I'll bet you a coffee at MarShaTes that if I were to say, "Winston tastes good," you would answer back instantly "...like a cigarette should."  Read more »

At age 107, it burns on...

I have a TV that's 25-plus years old. It was a floor model at Weinstock's in the early '80s, marked down once and -- this makes it even sweeter -- I asked for a further discount to close the deal.  When Weinstock's said yes to my offer, I brought home a TV that is now in its third house, where it continues to work flawlessly for many hours a week.

You've probably got a story like that too, an appliance or gizmo that has outlived your expectations by miles. But let's all stand in silent respect for this:

Light bulb  Read more »

The best 50 TV comedies? Oh, yeah?

Everyone knows television, and we've all consumed enough of it to feel comfortable acting as critics.  So when AOL produces a list of the top 50 TV comedies, well, pardon us if we feel entitled to disagree.

Here are the teasing questions posed here yesterday about AOL's list.

Which of these shows was chosen No. 1?  Read more »

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