Thursday, March 29, 2007
...are pretty awesome, but not as odd as one might think, since many European cities still have street-level trolleys. What makes these shots so unusual [Russian-language page; try Google Language Tools for a translation] is probably the fact many of these trains appear to be coal-powered steam locomotives, but these may have been museum pieces being transported on the regular tracks - especially since there seem to be police escorts ahead of all the steam trains. [via Neatorama]
1) Leia sends the "Help us, Obi-Wan Kenobi!" hologram using R2D2
2) Yoda ponders graciously in three-quarters view
3) Luke gazes into the Tatooine twin sunsets
Some I really don't think are a great idea: do we really want freaky Darth Maul, a poxy Evil Emperor Palpatine, or for that matter, Stormtroopers - representing the U.S. of A. on our postage?
If I have to choose one, I'll probably pick the Leia-R2D2 stamp (shown), mostly because of its messenger meta-symbolism. After all, wasn't R2D2 essentially a little galactic postman? Depressingly, note that all the choices have the new 41-cent first class rate...old Artoo didn't charge a penny, and didn't let Stormtroopers, meteors, warp drives or the dark of space keep him from delivering the mail.
When Star Wars was packing the theaters in 1977, first class postage was...13 cents. Feh. Maybe the Evil Emperor stamp isn't such a bad idea after all. :)
Monday, March 26, 2007
- Grass and jelly as artform:
"We are tracking the progress of grass and jelly from ert to inert" said Mr Peterson. "We are alert to the shifts of meaning brought about by evaporation and vandalism," added Ms Walsh. To put it another way, these keen science buffs are turning matter into dosen’t matter. "We are demonstrating the fleeting bloat and shrivel of life," said Ms Walsh. "When the novelty of the original concept evaporates, we are left with a dessicated husk of meaning." added Mr Peterson.Nigel Peterson and Deborah Walsh's website contains photos of the ephemeral grassworks. [via kottke.org]
- One of the men caught up in a Dothan, Alabama prostitution sting operation allegedly offered the female police officer posing as a sex worker six freshly killed squirrels in lieu of cash. I imagine he thought she'd jump at the chance to cook up some fierce squirrel stew. [via Neatorama; whose post title would make a great scratch-your-head band name: Squirrels for Sex.]
- Traveling around the world, in search of a Seat of Comfort? Try Public Toilets.org!
- In honor of the season that mysteriously disappeared this weekend, we present the Digital Snow Museum, complete with photos of a rare phenomenon I actually have seen in person on snow-covered fields in just-south-of-Quebec Northern New York, snow rollers - and their even rarer and more striking siblings, snow doughnuts!
- According to a Uppsala University research study, chemicals in the environment can cause frogs to change their sex.
- How should one "have soup"? Keiichiro details the relative cultural pros and cons of spoons, bowls, and chopsticks.
- 16 Things it Takes Most of Us 50 Years to Learn.
- Biff! Bow! Clanketh? Argentinian site Batmania catalogues all the onomatopoeia in the original Batman TV series.
Labels: links du jour
Sunday, March 25, 2007There's no cannibal guilt after consuming their offal.
Wash and drain one pound of fresh chicken livers (extra points for organic or no-hormones, no-antibiotics brands) in a colander. In a separate bowl, combine one cup of bread crumbs (preferably Japanese style panko crumbs but ordinary ones will do) and a teaspoon of Lawry's™ Seasoned Salt. Toss livers in crumb and seasoning mixture with chopsticks or fork until evenly coated. Sauté in portions in a large nonstick pan - in some butter or oil - until outside is browned but interior is slightly pink. Remove from pan, allow to cool slightly and enjoy.
Chianti and fava beans optional. As you can see this mostly-vegetarian-thing has some spectacular falls off the wagon, especially after a hard workout.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
This ad for Kohler™ Class Five Flushing Technology* - seen on CNN's front page this morning - is hilarious and wrong on so many levels. Not because Jo the plumber's a woman, of course, which is a very cool thing - just the idea of a "Stop This Toilet!" challenge.
C'mon, would you be as likely to click through the ad if it was beefy old Joe the Plumber challenging you to stop his toilet? Yeah, I didn't think so.
*You know, here's an idea for a great new reality TV show: a plumber takes a contestant's old, weak, runny and clanky commode and converts it into a lean, mean flushing machine! You know, adjustable water volume, built-in warm-water cleansers, a remote control, an iPod® dock and maybe a flat-screen TV entertainment system for those...ahem...longer visits?
It'll be called...wait for it...Pimp My Can.
*dodges rotting vegetables while signing off blogger*
Wednesday, March 21, 2007Via Guardian UK:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The mystery creator of the Orwellian YouTube ad against Hillary Rodham Clinton is a Democratic operative who worked for a digital consulting firm with ties to rival Sen. Barack Obama. Philip de Vellis, a strategist with Blue State Digital, acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that he was the creator of the video, which portrayed Clinton as a Big Brother figure and urged support for Obama's presidential campaign. De Vellis, 33, said he resigned from the firm on Wednesday after he learned that he was about to be unmasked by the HuffingtonPost.com., a liberal news and opinion Internet site.A watershed moment in political advertising? Perhaps, if only because it's a great example of what happens when Web 2.0 meets the Law of Unintended Consequences - an individual supporter of a candidate might do more harm than good by releasing a homebrewed "viral marketing" ad with the best of intentions.
Blue State designed Obama's Web site and one of the firm's founding members, Joe Rospars, took a leave from the company to work as Obama's director of new media. The connection to the campaign is likely to be a setback for Obama, who has cultivated an image as politician who wants to rise above bare-knuckle politics. "It's true ... yeah, it's me," de Vellis said Wednesday evening. He said he produced the ad outside of work and that neither Blue State nor the Obama campaign was aware of his role in the ad. "But it raises some eyebrows, so I thought it best that I resign and not put them in that position."
Thomas Gensemer, the managing director of Blue State Digital, said de Vellis was fired.
More at SFGate.com and the Huffington Post.
Monday, March 19, 2007This past weekend, my better half and I had the chance to briefly swing through Trenton, New Jersey on the way back from a stop on Jersey shore. What you're looking at here is the house I grew up in...well, my family lived here until I was 14 and we moved to New York State, but that's for another post. Yes, that is a lot of snow on the ground for central NJ: it's the aftermath of that nasty slush-blizzard that paralyzed East Coast air travel last week.
What I found amazing about driving down Lynwood Avenue is how little the street has changed in the past 25 years, inspite of its looking a tad run-down. No gentrified condos arose in the intervening years, no new big box outlets, no widening of the streets. As far as I could tell, most of the houses on the street were even the same color they were a quarter century ago. [And amazingly, we found our way there and back around town without a map or directions....we just drove from my memory! Of course, if we had gotten lost, I wouldn't have said a thing about it, now, would I? - L.]
At that old house (my family rented the upstairs apartment, while the landlord lived downstairs) the gutter downspouts and windows have been replaced with new white versions and the wooden wheelchair ramp the previous owners installed is gone, but the doors, the mailboxes and street numbers, and almost everything else about the place looks the same. Click on the image for a big, close-up look; click here for a Google Maps bird's eye view. Bizarrely, the couches and loveseat perched on the porch look exactly like the ones the old owners had inside their living room during the 1970's. Hell, they probably are the same brown and yellow plaid ones.
Why does this scenario remind me so much of Stephen King's IT? I half-expect a mouldering corpse in a nightgown to beckon us inside with a curved bony finger...[we ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE and you will too haaaaaaa]
(P.S) No, I did not buy any Taylor Ham® on this trip.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
- Oh, Lawdy, lawdy, you will not catch me walking on this thing...ever. The Hualapai Native American tribe announce the near-completion of a glass U-shaped tourist sky-bridge suspended nearly 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon floor. Via CNN:
If you're a bridge, the Grand Canyon is probably the last place you'd want to be: 90 miles per hour vertical winds whip upward with tornado-like force, a condition endured by no other bridge in the world. To secure the Skywalk, Lochsa Engineering in Las Vegas has cantilevered it atop the cliff with 94 steel rods that bore 46 feet into the limestone rock. As a result, it can support 70 tons of weight, equivalent to roughly 700 hefty men, although the maximum occupancy is set at 120 people. Three oscillating dampers - steel plates, each 3,200 pounds - inside the hollow bridge beams act as shock absorbers, moving up and down to neutralize the vibrations from foot traffic and wind gusts. For further support, the walkway itself will be constructed of three-inch-thick, heat-strengthened glass and enclosed by five-foot-tall glass walls.Glass walls, glass bottom. If that's not enough, the Skywalk is rumored to be planning a passenger trolley that runs along a track beneath.
- What do you call that fizzy sweet stuff in a can - "soda" or "pop"? The Pop vs. Soda map displays a county-by-county breakdown of naming preferences around the nation. Fun fact: I grew up in a region where nearly 100% of people surveyed call it "soda" (Central NJ) so now I find it strange that almost all native Chicagoans call it "pop." Language gives me away every time.
- Regular readers know I'm a big ol' sucker for typography (hence one of my online aliases, fontsucker), so these two items are are treat: a slideshow presentation from this year's SXSW by Richard Rutter and Mark Boulton, "Web Typography Sucks" [via Kottke], and a new documentary film about the wide-reaching influence of the 20th Century's most pervasive sans serif, Helvetica. [via Neatorama]
- Native tribal leaders in Guatemala plan to
exorcisespiritually cleanse the ancient Mayan ruins of Iximche city after Pres. Bush's visit, citing concern about "bad spirits" he may have brought along.
- The Nation: "Who's Afraid of Gardasil?" The complicated behind-the-scenes marketing and political wrangling behind the new HPV vaccine. [via feministe]
- What happens when a mini-mob takes over the electronics sections of Walmart and Target, hosting an impromptu dance party? Hilarity and surprisingly little security brouhaha ensues, but the video results are very entertaining. But don't try this at your local airport. [Newspeak Blog]
- A sacred Brahmin calf has been pegged as the culprit in a recent series of chicken snatchings:
Ajit Ghosh, owner of the missing chickens, eventually solved the mystery when he caught his sacred cow eating several of them at night. "Instead of the dogs, we watched in horror as the calf, whom we had fondly named Lal, sneak to the coop and grab the little ones with the precision of a jungle cat," said Ghosh's brother Gour. [World of Wonder]While local Bengali veterinarians say Lal's strange diet is probably the result of disease, his owners believe the calf's taste for chicken stems from a previous life spent as...a tiger.
Labels: links du jour
Saturday, March 10, 2007It could be worse: my "power color" could be...mauve?
Your Power Color Is Teal
At Your Highest:
You feel accomplished and optimistic about the future.
At Your Lowest:
You feel in a slump and lack creativity.
You tend to be many people's ideal partner.
How You're Attractive:
You make people feel confident and accepted.
Your Eternal Question:
"What Impression Am I Giving?"
Friday, March 09, 2007Tom Dickson, the Ron Popeil of specialized electric household blenders, has a series of retro-riffic promotional Blendtec videos on YouTube, complete with ingenuous homebrew diction and orchestral library music. His many inedible blendings include iPods, light bulbs, household scissors, and Cochicken - a fraternity-house-dare amalgam of cola and half a rotisserie chicken, bones and all. However, my favorite has to be the Glow Stick version; all it needs is a Shpongle soundtrack.
(P.S.) Anyone else notice that Tom says, "...in the DESTRUCTIONS on the light stick..."?
More info at uspsjedimaster.com
[NOTE: although this URL is printed on the mailboxes in the photo, it still appears to be a placeholder page at http://www.uspsjedimaster.com. However, http://upsjedimaster.com is a password-protected site!]
UPDATE: Muppets have their own Wiki, as do conservatives [link NSFW] - now there's Wookieepedia!
[The Force.com, via Neatorama]
Thursday, March 08, 2007
- First reaction: cancer prevention and awareness is all fine and well, but can a OB-GYN exam version of the Inflatable! Super! Colon! be far behind? Second reaction: Elvis? Are you in there? [Link possibly NSFW] [Image courtesy Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation, via NeatoRama]
- I'm a big crime thriller buff, and David Fincher's latest, Zodiac [Metacritic; read the Village Voice review], does not disappoint. By all means catch it if you enjoy meaty, dense, lengthy films with a wealth of detail, but skip it or wait for the DVD if you: a) expect frequent gore or chase sequences, b) enjoy zoning out during movies, or c) have a small bladder. 3 word review: subtle but gripping. Also recommended, a film I'm ashamed to say I haven't seen yet - Fritz Lang's M.
- Inventions known and yet-unknown: the Innovation Timeline predicts by 2050 we'll have "mindwipes," "quiet paint," "sleep surrogates" (mentioned twice; must be an important future invention), "offshore prisons," (note: Britain tried those back in the 17th Century; not a success) and humorously, "Roujin-Z 0001" [via Kottke]
- Buzz has it Korean cuisine is (literally) the hot new taste on the street (as was Vietnamese recently, and Thai before that, and so on...). My Korean Kitchen is a good starting point for recipes and terminology; I'm afraid the new Super H-Mart in Niles, IL soon will become even more insanely crowded than it already is. NOTE: Google Language Tools' Korean-to-English Beta translation engine appears to need a bit of work; the translation of H-Mart Korean-language page is one of the funniest things I've read in weeks. The word "wasabi" is autotranslated as "Gas rain (!)" and the Japanese brand "Ajinomoto" comes out as "Oh [ci] old mother toe."
- Treasure hunters, listen up! The U.S. Mint apparently released 50,000 of the new George Washington dollar coins without the unique edge engraving that reads "E PLURIBUS UNUM - IN GOD WE TRUST." That means there are plenty of "God-less" dollars on the street - currently they are fetching $200 and up each on eBay.
Labels: links du jour
Tuesday, March 06, 2007Sometimes the simplest meals are the most satisfying, for example, a Chip Butty or the classic English meal of beans on toast. Tonight we present a different international comfort food - one with more kick and less after-dinner music.
I was pretty darned hungry after coming home from the gym, and there wasn't a lot in the fridge (yep, due for a grocery trip). On the way home on the "L" the image of omuraisu popped into my head*. Perfect - since I had all the ingredients on hand! I first saw an omuraisu in Tampopo (a wonderful 80's surrealist comedy by the late Juzo Itami, dealing with our complex relationships with food; one of my favorite films). In one of the film's sub-scenes, we see a homeless duo - and elderly man and a young boy - sneak into a restaurant kitchen after closing time to artfully prepare an impromptu omuraisu. Granted, my first attempt (seen above) isn't as pretty as the restaurant-made kind, but it certainly was tasty.
I made mine with an omelet shell of 2 eggs, 2 T. water, 1/2 tsp. Kikkoman lower-sodium soy sauce, and one chopped scallion. The filling was a cup of cold cooked white basmati rice, half a cup of lightly cooked frozen peas, a teaspoon of ketchup and a squirt of sriracha sauce for extra kick.
[* I don't even want to think of why I would think of omuraisu on the "L," since my ride was especially gross this evening. Since this is a food posting, I'll spare you the gory details. Just Hungry has a lovely post on omuraisu, and also mentions the memorable scene in Tampopo (which to my delight has been released on DVD after being OOP for many years!)]
Monday, March 05, 2007You think I'm kidding, don't you? It's not actually new news, but EVA Air apparently has a few Sanrio-sponsored Hello Kitty™ international jets, fully kitt(en)ed out from nose to tail, complete with themed attendant costumes, meals, and so on.
EVA repeated the livery theme inside the cabin by creating a Hello Kitty fantasy with sweet Hello Kitty paintings on the walls, and by outfitting flight attendants with Hello Kitty ribbons for their hair and Hello Kitty aprons. Passengers booked on EVA’s Hello Kitty Jet will get pink Hello Kitty boarding passes and luggage tags. Onboard, they will enjoy a series of inflight Hello Kitty service accessories, Hello Kitty meals, and have access to exclusive EVA Air Hello Kitty duty-free shopping.I know I'm not the only one that thinks the CTA Pink Line missed out on a valuable co-branding opportunity.
UPDATE: I started wondering if HK's American counterpart, Mickey Mouse, ever had his own airliner...apparently in 2003 Alaska Airlines decorated one of their 737's, "The Spirit of Disneyland," with a cheery Mickey on the tail, Goofy along the fuselage...and Minnie cheerfully plastered on the nosecone. No sign of maximum Mousetude: no costumed attendants or mouse-shaped maki* rolls in evidence, so Hello Kitty wins this round of true cartoon character madness.
* Check out the Rojaks Daily link below for some fantastic photos of Helly Kitty in-flight bento boxes, many of which include an adorable item that looks a slice of fish cake (not quite narutomaki, but sort of kamaboko-millefiore, if you will) cheerfully colored to look like Her Nibs face. I mean, Minnie doesn't look 'plastered,' but...oh, hell, never mind.
[via Feministe >> Rojaks Daily [great pics here of HK inflight meals, merch, etc.] >> EVA Air >> EVAKITTY]
Thursday, March 01, 2007You've likely heard about the uproar surrounding "Why I Hate Blacks" [cached text of the editorial here] - an inexplicable editorial by columnist Kenneth Eng, published February 23rd in the San Francisco publication AsianWeek. Suffice it to say that whatever Eng personal's views on African-Americans may be, the paper should have had the common sense to know a priori no good would come from publishing that inflammatory piece. Even if the paper's underlying motive was to get tongues a-waggin' and papers a-sellin', the long-term results for AsianWeek - and by association, the communities it represents - would likely be negative, apologies and Eng's firing notwithstanding.
A quick perusal of news headlines makes it obvious something about our sense of discourse is changing, and not for the better. Think back to Michael Richards' racist stage tirade, which set off the obligatory "I can't believe he said that!" tempest, and stirred up much discussion about the "appropriate" use of the n-word. While Richards' outburst would have likely gone no further than the comedy club's environs without one audience member's cell phone video, his little detonation had the slo-mo car-crash feel of a washed-up entertainer's public breakdown. Tim Hardaway's "I Hate Gay People" diatribe in response to ex-NBA John Amaechi's self-outing has a similar 'off-the cuff hatin' vibe. Kenneth Eng's editorial had the luxury of time, the publishing process, and chief editorial oversight - and seems coldly calculated by comparison.
These and other fulminant "I just gotta be honest!" moments show up as sore spots in the mainstream media, but they're only the surface of the festering boil. We've twisted and satirized the meaning of "politically correct" to such an extent that it's now hip, edgy and "real" to openly flout its original message of tolerance and inclusivity. "Honesty" is now frequently an excuse for hateful speech of the worst kind; sincerity its own disclaimer.
On the other hand, one of the sillest manifestations of "P.C." is exemplified by the New York City Council's recent "ban" on the use of the n-word; as if eliminating the use of an utterance could have any effect whatsoever on the ugly historical stew of injustice and racism behind the word. Remember this, though: any censorship is false "P.C." It's like grinding off the sharp burrs of a plutonium casting, so the bomb-makers won't cut their fingers.
Societally, we're raising what I like to call the "inter-group intolerance public discomfort bar"; one loudmouth lets it rip, and even before the dust settles, those who may have been holding off on acting similarly feel freer to do so. It's the media's equivalent of the post-punch playground justification: "But he hit me first!" The problem is, when there is a overall greater level of openly-expressed hate and intolerance, what was once considered civil behavior starts being labeled "wishy-washy" or "P.C." Another problem is that none wants to let the other side have the last word - and once the Trash Talking Genie is out, it's hard to stuff his billowy beergut back in the jar.