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I LOVE The Bottom 5! I saw your site mentioned in (of all things,) The Official Playstation Magazine.

Have you ever tuned into a show, thinking it's about travel, and found it's more about skin and grinding? And no, they're not on MTV. I can't think of five (or even the exact names,) but I keep running into them on channels such as The Travel Channel and E! Network.

One of the most obvious is Wild On. They always go to a different location, but no matter where they go, what natural beauty, cultural importance or history the place may have, they always have people in skimpy bathing suits, people grinding up against each other in noisy clubs, and some sort of extreme sport.

I've seen others on The Travel Channel, where they'll have top 10 of one thing or another. Some of them are pretty good (or funny,) such as the Top 10 Public Restrooms, but then, there are the others. Such as, the Top 10 Hotel Pools. OK, the pools are nice, but it seems to be an excuse to show flesh–up close, and over and over again. I think they may have also had the Top 10 Beaches or something.

I enjoy travel topics, seeing beautiful places, interesting sights, art, architecture, or just dream of getting away through travel magazines and TV shows (much cheaper, though much less satisfying than real travel,) but those shows just don't DO that for me!!

If this topic is too close to "MTV's most Insulting Programs," I understand. And I wish I could give you five examples. But it just seems like I keep running into them.

Thanks, and I hope to see more great topics in The Bottom 5!

Miki L.



Thank you for your article on Messmore & Damon. I lived two blocks away from them in NYC in the early '30s. Some of the monsters that they produced surely made an impression on me. I am 77 now, but remember like it was yesterday.

Thank you for a momentary trip back to my youth.

Walt Lewis
(e-mail address withheld)



I thought your article ["The Decline of Western Magazine Design"] was right on the mark.

For several years one of my formerly favorite magazines, Scientific American, has slowly been shedding the distinctive aspects of its cover and inside design. At one time they had a cover almost as distinctive and recognizable as National Geographic.

One could argue that it was not a very interesting design, but it was unique and easy to find at the newsstand. I wonder what bonehead decided to "modernize" the look by totally homogenizing it.

(e-mail address withheld)



Why do girls like Disney films when they are so stereotypical of women??? Do u have any info on this?

Holly Prins

(e-mail address withheld)

I've only got opinions on the issue (though I'm sure there's got to be an academic article or two out there). I think it's perhaps due to family conditioning—the parents grew up with Disney films so they in turn take their children to Disney films, impressing upon them how "great" they are. Thus, we're all indoctrinated as children that these are films above reproach, and the cycle continues on and on.

As for why girls are attracted to stereotypes, I'm not sure... it's not just Disney films, but all sorts of other inputs, like toys and dolls. (For instance, why do four-year-old girls like to pretend that they're mothers taking care of infants? It's like they're in training for motherhood from day one.) I think Disney did try to make a change with Mulan (though I never bothered to see it), so perhaps things are changing for the better.




I've just discovered your mag through and am enjoying it thoroughly, the bottom fives in particular (the Bottom 5 SUVs struck a chord–I hate those things).

I'm a keen cook and I live in Australia and I can't help but notice the huge volume of achingly average cooking shows coming through at the moment, all desperate to cash in on Jamie Oliver's "do it simple, keep it real" style (which he seems to have given away lately, maybe he needs to fire his designer). How about a Bottom 5 Cooking Shows?

Another thing that seems to be very popular both here and in the UK (I'm not sure about the US where I assume you are based) are TV shows in which someone gets their house or garden remodeled by people who don't look at all like the type of people who you would trust to remodel anything more heavy-duty than a cucumber sandwich.

What do you think?

Sam Franzway
(e-mail address withheld)

Well, the problem is that most everybody expects cooking shows to be bad–that's just their natural state, so it'd be hard to work up much outrage.

As for remodeling shows, there's one based on a UK show that's popular here, Trading Spaces–but I think the key to its success is that it has designers that viewers like vs. designers they loathe, thus it becomes a battle between the forces of good and bad taste. So, again, I think it'd be difficult to criticize it when watching tasteless cretins redesign a room is part of the show's appeal–"the interior designers you love to hate."

Thus you see how hard it is for me to come up with just the right topics–they have to be irksome bits of pop culture, but not obviously so.



WOW! That's too cool that Steve M. was kind enough to write! Allow me to humbly clarify a couple of points that he mentioned:

While the car is "considered" to have three wheels, it actually has four as the front uses a pair of close-coupled wheels (like the nose gear on an aircraft). Also, the engine is indeed a Renault but is not a rotary, it's an opposed layout (like the original VW Bug, and most Porsches and Subarus).

As to the claim that it can be driven into a ditch or that it would survive a side impact by spinning out are both dubious. With the rear wheels spaced out further apart than the front, and when you also consider that the majority of the weight is in the rear, it's very unlikely that "if it got hit broadside, it would just spin around on the back wheels." More likely it would PIVOT around the back wheels as the front slid out.

Generally 3 wheeled vehicles which have the single wheel up front are fairly unstable, certainly far more so than a single rear wheel design. Here's some interesting reading for those of a technical bent (and I've been told to get bent on numerous occasions):

Air-filled shocks (more likely springs in this case) go back to at least the 1930s and were first used by GM on their busses. This is pretty common nowadays with the hotrodders.

Getting back to the motive power. As I understand it, the car was built with a Renault engine (which is still in situ) and at one point a boilerless steam engine was also proposed (don't know any details about this, would like more info). Some of the literature, at different times, mentions the Plasma engine and a new (at the time) technology electric motor that was either super efficient or one of those hackneyed free energy jobs.

A search on the web for free energy or over unity devices will lead you to further info on both the Plasma and the Gray electric motor. While reading all the grandiose claims for either of these devices be wary of monkeys flying out of your butt or of any used bridge salesmen that will come a-knocking.



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