Thursday, August 31, 2006
- Newsflash: the BBC reports that the missing Edvard Munch paintings "Scream" and "Madonna" have reportedly been found, mostly intact. After being stolen in 2004, the works were believed to have been destroyed by arson last August. [via BoingBoing]
- Muslim clerics in Zanzibar want their island's goverment to stop a planned international Freddie Mercury would-have-been 60th birthday celebration, because of the late singer's homosexuality. Freddie, né Farouk Bulsara, was born on Zanzibar September 5th, 1946. [via Pandagon]
- Never, never hug a Swiss cow: [MSNBC.com]
"Do not scare the animals or look them directly in the eye. Do not wave sticks. Give a precise blow to the muzzle of the cow in the event of absolute need," it advises.
Evelyne Zaugg of the Swiss Hiking Federation said that while there were no precise statistics on incidents involving cows, walkers are reporting more run-ins than a few years ago.
She said new rearing practices, where the animals spend less time around farmers and wander in pastures with little human interaction, were partly to blame for the anti-social behavior.
- Late summer is not only the Silly Season, but according to the Dutch, it's "Cucumber Season," when we (and sophisticated bovines) enjoy the delights of the Coolest Vegetable. [Language Log] More on the Silly Season at Wikipedia, and an exhaustive listing of cucumber information at B's Cucumber Pages.
- Fire up your smoking jackets, break out the dip, and don't be shy: Pigs in Blankets are hot again - even at the swankiest Manhattan events. [New York Times] Whose P-in-B's (at least in NYC) have the greatest kung fu?
- What kind of tattletale calls Chicago's 311 (non-emergency police line) to rat out a restaurateur who served up foie gras after the ludicrous citywide sales ban went into effect? I suspect the AFLAC duck. [via ChicagoIST]
Tuesday, August 29, 2006Some sad news from my old stomping grounds in northern New York...details from WPTZ-TV, Plattsburgh, NY:
ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. -- The Greyhound bus that crashed in the Adirondacks Monday night was removed from the scene Tuesday morning and all lanes of Interstate 87 reopened.[More details available at the Montreal Gazette (source image above), CJOB News, and CBC News]
New York State Police said they believe that tire failure caused the bus to crash and flip over on Interstate 87 in Elizabethtown. Five people were killed, including the driver of the Montreal-bound bus, 52-year-old Ronald Burgess of Islip, N.Y. Police also released the names of two other victims: 16-year-old Tambadou Souleymane of Montreal, Canada, and 81-year-old Antonide Dorce of Hempstead, N.Y. The names of the other victims were not released.
Fifty-two passengers were on board at the time of the crash. Thirty-seven passengers were taken to Plattsburgh's Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital. Most were treated and released but four remain in critical condition.
Thursday, August 24, 2006UPDATE: I'm a few hours too late to enter Jason Kottke's Pluto Mnemonic Contest, but here's my 9 words:
Many valid extraterrestrial masses jointly secede under new plan.
Isn't there's something surreal - and vaguely ominous - about the natural world arbitrarily "losing" a planet, somewhere along the lines of a global math society declaring the numeral "9" nonexistent?
Offsetting this loss, we will gain objects in the "dwarf planet" and "pluton" categories, but my mid-Century sensibilities have been dealt a decisive thwack by the Union's fateful decision in Prague. Specifically, the International Astronomical Union has set the definition of "planet" to be
...a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit....and by not "clearing the neighborhood around its orbit," Pluto didn't cut the mustard. Not a good enough housekeeper for the celestial condo association, apparently. I don't know about you, but I know some people who meet all three criteria of planethood, with the additional quality of periodically dispersing vast quantities of gaseous matter into their surrounding atmosphere. Perhaps we could call these folk "planets" as a subtle form of insult.
Think of all the science textbooks that will have to be revised - wait, scratch that - I'm sure the ID folks would gladly just pull them from circulation. Not to mention, this website will have now have to change its domain name - and this obscure science-fiction book [which I confess I read in 7th grade, although in terms of content, it really had no business being in a middle-school library] is one planet further away from reality.
We still love you, Pluto, and to me you will always be the NINTH planet....(*sigh*). Can I start my own revisionist curriculum now?
Monday, August 21, 2006One year after his death, the new Moog Foundation's website debuts, carrying on the legacy of pioneering electronic music inventor Robert Moog:
On August 21, 2005 my father died. He was a great and gentle man who left his mark on the world forever. During the past year my family and I have discussed many ways in which we could carry on his work and his legacy.
We have decided to establish the Bob Moog Memorial Foundation for Electronic Music, with a few carefully chosen objectives, each tied to his life and work.
Today, we invite you to join us. Please visit our new website www.moogfoundation.org
Director, The Bob Moog Foundation
- UPDATE 8/24/06: Owners decide to change restaurant name and remove poster after wide controversy. [Thanks to Dajvid for the tip! -- L]
From the Questionable Ideas file: Hitler's Cross, a Hitler-themed restaurant (!) opened last week in Mumbai, India. Apparently the restaurant is trying to cash in on the association betwen the ancient swastika symbol - which is Indian in origin - and its appropriation by the German Nazi party.
"We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people's minds," owner Punit Shablok told Reuters.Because nothing says "relaxing dining" like a poster of Der Führer. Satire? Who knows. The Producers it certainly ain't. More at India Times, Mumbai Edition. Other odd restaurant themes? Taiwan's "Marton" chain, Japan's The Lock-Up:
The small restaurant, its interior done out in the Nazi colors of red, white and black, also has a lounge for smoking the Indian water pipe or "hookah." Posters line the road leading up to it, featuring a red swastika carved in the name of the eatery. One slogan reads: "From Small Bites to Mega Joys." A huge portrait of a stern-looking Füehrer greets visitors at the door. The cross in the restaurant's name refers to the swastika that symbolized the Nazi regime.
"This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal," said restaurant manager Fatima Kabani, adding that they were planning to turn the eatery’s name into a brand with more branches in Mumbai.
"Become a prisoner and have the most shocking and exciting dinner in your life! Even though you don't want to work that much, there is no choice other than go to work every single day! Feels like a prison? Well.. how about trying our prison? We bet you'll like it! Cute jailers in mini skirts, monsters which are not scary at all, and of course the most delicious prison food you've ever had!"...and almost anything in Japan's Diamond Dining chain - like the Vampire Café.
- Thai cigarette warning labels don't mince words - they mince lung. And if dropping the Brown kids off at the pool leaves you bored, try the new TOTO toilet/mp3 player, complete with SD Flash memory slot for personalized toodle-oo on the loo.[Japundit]
- "Fermez le Bush?" Slate on the White House's clandestine Frenchness.
In retrospect, we should have seen the tell-tale signs of Frenchness all along: Bush's Parisian refusal to work in August, Cheney's snooty contempt for American culture, Condi's flair for haute couture, Bolten's Marie-Antoinettish tax cuts, and Rumsfeld's penchant for les head-butts. All this time, we've mistaken W for the Peter Sellers in Being There, when in every aspect of his job, Bush is actually Inspector Clouseau. [read full article]
- Is Sax Bad for Rock and Roll? [via Motel de Moka]
- Self-Assembling Nano Boxes Show Chemical Control! New Scientist reports:
Microscopic metal boxes that hold a few nanolitres of liquid each have been developed by US researchers. They say the tiny containers could someday be used for precision chemistry or even drug delivery inside the body.The X-Files' Skinner might have something to say about that there nano-tech.
...The tiny boxes are made from flat templates that self-assemble due to liquid surface tension during the production process. Once constructed, they can be also moved around remotely using magnetic fields. This means they could carry small chemical samples around or possibly even deliver drugs within the human body, the researchers say.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Found this on YouTube: a splendid homebrew video for the instrumental track "Astradyne" by Ultravox. Click and enjoy your trip from pre-9/11 Manhattan (!), to an aerial excursion down Chicago's waterfront, and beyond.
Friday, August 11, 2006
"Remember Richard Reid, the guy who tried to light up his shoe on the airplane? After that we had to take off our shoes. Imagine what would have happened if he had hid that bomb in his pants..."
-- Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, an aviation consulting firm in Evergreen, Colorado
Thursday, August 10, 2006Sorry for the protracted absence, readers, but blogging has been interrupted by hectic daily (and not-so-daily) life events for the past few weeks; however, I look forward to returning to regular posting in the near future.
Just flew back from Washington, DC yesterday, hours before events in the UK plunged us into travelers' Hell once more. *sigh* Something I tried for the first time - not that I had a choice in the matter, really: DCA (Reagan National) has the Smiths Detection chemical trace detection units that blast you with air to see if you're carrying explosives or drugs on your person...not the most pleasant experience (those airjets dry out contacts in a flash - I'd have shut my eyes if I knew how strong the air blasts would be), but it beats a cavity search any day. Next time I fly, I'm sure the new restrictions will still be in place...this time, no liquids.
No shoes, no shampoo, no deodorant; no water or drinks. Hmm. Remind you of anything? Wandering 40 days in the desert, perhaps?
Actually, the trace detection portion of the security screening requires you to keep your shoes on - and, had Richard Reid tried to walk through of these babies with his chaussures plastiques, he would have been taken down in a hailstorm of sirens, flashing lights and Segway'd airport cops.
One nattily-dressed foreign gentleman ahead of me in line didn't quite understand the TSA agent's barked instructions to KEEP YOUR SHOES ON, ON!, resulting in an awkward queue delay and said gentleman's beeline to the shoeshine stand for a quick touch-up before boarding - after the shoes had to come OFF, OFF! for the metal detector portion of the security check.
Really, fingerprints on brown Bruno Maglis just don't make it.
"Focus, Daniel-san! Shoes ON, Shoes OFF! Shoes ON, Shoes OFF!" [NSFW]
Someday, they'll just strip us naked, tranquilize us, and stack us upright like cordwood to fly.