Monday, April 30, 2007

Washington's Monuments

Brian

On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath of office to become the first President of the United States. This photo by _Codename_ shows the 1882 statue by a man named after another President—John Quincy Adams Ward—that stands at the site where Washington was sworn in: Federal Hall, Wall Street, New York. The building itself is an 1842 replacement of the original, which was razed for scrap in 1812.


As famous as a victorious general as he is as a President, Washington is often rendered on horseback like an ancient Roman military leader. Clockworkpink's photo shows the very first Washington equestrian statue, an 1869 Thomas Ball that stands at Boston Public Garden.




Philadelphia was the capital of the United States for much of Washington's term in office. The top photo, by Steph And the City, depicts J.A. Bailey's 1869 statue of Washington standing in front of Independence Hall, where Washington had presided over the Constitutional Convention of 1787. While President, Washington lived a block away at the Executive Mansion. In the second photo, by srhbth, a 1922 bronze cast of a 1790 Jean Antoine Houdon statue of Washington looms over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square. The park served as a Revolutionary War barracks and later graveyard for many of Washington's men. The inscription on the sarcophagus, erected in the 1950s and encasing an exhumed soldier, reads "Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington's army who died to give you liberty."


Hoffmann's photo of the Capitol Rotunda shows a portrait of Washington that, like the one at Philadelphia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is a copy of Houdon's famous statue. It was a 1934 gift from the state of Virginia to the National Statuary Hall Collection, the Capitol's collection of a hundred monuments, two from each state. Virginia's other contribution depicted Robert E. Lee.


For the statue of Washington that stands in the National Cathedral (photographed here by AlbinoFlea), sculptor Lee Lawrie explained, "I have tried to show not the soldier, not the President, but the man Washington, coming into Christ Church, Alexandria, pausing a moment before going down the aisle to his pew."


Daniel Chester French's equestrian statue of Washington at Place d'Iéna, Paris (photographed by kreego), was given to the French government by a committee of American women in 1900. In its early years, the statue's sword was repeatedly stolen and had to be replaced. This statue, along with the Thomas Ball one in Boston, defeats the old myth about the horse's legs in an equestrian statue being code for the fate of the rider: supposedly, two legs up meant the rider died in battle, one leg raised meant the rider was wounded in battle but died later, and all four feet on the ground meant the rider survived his battles without a scratch. Each of these two statues shows Washington astride a horse with one leg raised, but Washington was never wounded in battle. He died in December of 1799 from pneumonia after inspecting his property on horseback in foul weather.

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When a Baldwin Calls

Brian

Inevitable. You don't have the brains or the decency. (Via YesButNoButYes.)

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Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

Brian
Tired of going out looking for stories, the newspaper now just waits to take pictures and write about whatever comes through its front door.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Jagger, Richards, Lennon Saw UFOs and Aliens

Brian
Michael Luckman, director of the New York Center for Extraterrestrial Research, has written a new book about the connection between British rock stars and creatures from outer space:
"In 1968 he went camping in Glastonbury with his then girlfriend, singer
Marianne Faithful, and encountered a rare, luminous cigar-shaped mothership.

. . . .

The 63-year-old singer also sighted a UFO over the crowd during The Rolling
Stones' infamous 1969 Altamont Concert in California.

Mick is not the only member of the band to believe in aliens. Guitarist Keith
Richards has also admitted to "seeing a few".

. . . .

"John Lennon was apparently given a small egg shaped metallic-looking
object which he in turn gave to Uri Geller, the psychic.

"He didn't know what the purpose of it was, but he claimed he had been given it
by an extraterrestrial. Interestingly, this all happened less than a year before
he was assassinated."
Link (via Fortean Times). So what Luckman's suggesting is, Uri Geller killed John Lennon? Or arranged for the aliens to kill him? If Lennon had given that egg to Richards instead, I'm pretty sure he would have ground it up and snorted it.

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Image credits: "The Cryptoids," courtesy Coast to Coast AM, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Brian

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Stephen Hawking at Zero Gravity

Brian
From the Washington Post. Looks like a Halsman.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

When Hugh Grant Attacks

The Grave Digger

Hugh Grant was arrested and questioned by London police after a photographer accused the British actor of attacking him with a tub of baked beans.

Photographer Ian Whittaker told the Daily Star tabloid that he and Grant, 46, clashed near the actor's home.
Whittaker said Grant abused and kicked him on Tuesday before lobbing the beans. The paper printed photos of Grant with a plastic tub of food raised over his head.

Grant's lawyers Schillings said an incident had taken place and was now under investigation.
Link. Grant was bailed to return in May. Too often people are the victims of food and beverage attacks in this modern day and age. What's the answer? This writer recommends a waterproof pancho and a sense of humor to combat the food wars.

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Image credits: "baked beans," goatopolis, courtesy Flickr, acquired via Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So This German and His Horse Are Sleeping in an ATM Vestibule . . .

Brian
Wiesenburg's "Wolfgang H." says he had too many beers Sunday night and decided to sleep it off in the ATM foyer of a bank on the way home. With his horse.
"It was late, it was already dark and cold," he was quoted as saying.

Confronted with the lack of a hitching-post, he brought the 6-year-old horse, named Sammy, in along with him.

. . . .

No charges were filed, but there might be some cleanup needed: Apparently Sammy made his own after-hours deposit on the carpet.
Link (via BoingBoing). Deposit on the carpet! Apparently AP writers want to be bloggers now. If they all start putting stupid jokes at the end of their stories, what will I have left to do?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

If You Remember Past Lives, You May Just Have a Bad Memory

Brian
You may have a memory from a past life. Or, that memory may just be something you learned somewhere else and you can't tell the difference. After all, if you think you recall a past life, you're probably worse than average at remembering what source you learned information from:
Study author Maarten Peters of Maastricht University in the Netherlands tested patients of "reincarnation therapists," who use hypnosis to help their patients remember "past lives," which the clients believe are at the root of their current problems.

Subjects were given a memory test known as the false fame paradigm, in which they were asked to recite a list of unfamiliar names. The next day, they were shown a list that included those names, new names, and the names of famous people. The results: subjects who claimed to have memories of previous lives were more likely than those without such recollections to misidentify more of the previously recited names as belonging to famous people.

. . . .

"Once familiarity of an event is achieved, this can relatively easily be converted into a belief that the event did take place," Peters says. "A next possible step is that individuals interpret their thoughts and fantasies about the fictitious event as real memories."

. . . .

"I think the most important finding here is that these people are highly motivated to seek and endorse some way to explain why they are suffering from psychological distress," [Harvard's Susan] Clancy notes. "There are plenty of people out there who think they might have been abducted by aliens—you'll see, ask 20 of your friends—but they don't go so far as to create false memories."
Link. First the superstitious can't keep different fields of science straight, now people who've lived past lives suffer from CRS? I don't think I even want to be abducted by aliens anymore.

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Image credits:
Three Ventricles of the Brain, from Margarita Philosophica, Gregor Reisch, courtesy BibliOdyssey.

The Fate of Bill Stickers

Brian
From My Confined Space (thanks, Melissa!).

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Teen Proves Whippersnappers Are Better at Newfangled Technowhatsits

Brian
Thirteen-year-old Morgan Pozgar of Claysburg, Pennsylvania, became the national text-messaging champion this weekend, taking home $25,000 and a ridiculous claim to fame for her college applications:
In the end, 13-year-old Morgan Pozgar faced off against Michael "Cheeser" Nguyen in the east coast final, with Pozgar slipping past her challenger to face west coast champion [Eli] Tirosh, a law student from Los Angeles.

"I just wasn't fast enough," said Nguyen, a 23-year-old engineer from Pennsylvania. Asked how it felt to take second place, he was clearly disappointed: "I just got beaten by a teenage girl, but you know."

Tirosh, who said she practiced with her friend and trainer Amy, who threw out random words or symbols and even motivational Buddhist quotes, admitted to feeling a certain pressure due to the home side advantage.

Wearing a satin boxing robe before her championship bout against Pozgar, she said success would come down to who could marry lightning speed and accuracy.

"It's all about the thumbwork," she said. "It's about balance." She said she owed her success to relaxation and deep breathing.

So dedicated is she to the art of the text message that Tirosh apparently unwittingly uses abbreviations such as BTW (by the way), TTYL (talk to you later) and LOL (laughing out loud) in her normal speech.
Link (via Neatorama). The winning message is of course common among texting teenagers: the lyrics to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." It's kind of absurd that they treat this as if it were as big a deal as the ever-important Wing Bowl.

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Image credits: "20060302 OMG WTF," tspauld, courtesy Flickr, acquired via Creative Commons license.

The Island Shrank Ebu Gogo

Brian
The Good Reverend's favorite legendary hominid, ebu gogo, more properly deemed Homo floresiensis, took on his tiny stature as an adaptation to life on the island of Flores, according to Imperial College evolutionary zoologists:
This tendency is called the 'island rule'. It stipulates that because food on a small island is limited, smaller species do relatively well and often get bigger over time compared to their mainland relatives. This is because they can manage well on little resources and out-compete bigger species.

Larger species, on the other hand, face fierce competition for a small amount of food and become smaller, because those members that eat less have an advantage.

. . . .

True enough, small primate species (ones weighing less than five kilograms) all pumped up compared to their mainland relatives. But they also found that all the larger primates became smaller - by as much as 50 to 80 per cent.

That fits in well with what we know of H.floresiensis, who was around 55 percent of the mass of a modern Indonesian and probably 52 percent of an H.erectus.

So the evidence backs the idea that the hobbits were an 'insular dwarf race' – humans who became smaller, possibly after the island separated from the mainland and left them marooned with diminished food resources. The authors refuse, though, to wade into the debate as to whether the hobbits were H. erectus or H. sapiens.
Link. I knew there was something special about that island.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Brian

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Friday, April 20, 2007

More National Anthems You Won't Hear at the Olympic Medal Ceremony

Brian
Bahrain:

No matter what John McCain says. EDITED TO ADD: Fred Fassert, who wrote Barbara Ann, is Iranian (via growabrain). Previously on National Anthems . . .

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Spam Poetry

Brian
food processor adapter
by Wilkerson J. Romeo

Maybe, just maybe that's what has caused this rise in auto-immune diseases or at least makes them worse or causes their early on-set. I do not read your blog, Sophie, as a poor-me blog. I've tried to recreate it as much as possible in the past in terms of diet and fiber supplements, but with not very much success.
The Tigers shot 35 percent from the field.

2007

Analysis:

Romeo's "food processor adapter" is a riddle, a jumble of images and moods woven together to form . . . what, exactly? That is his challenge to the audience, a demand to work slowly through an otherwise fast-paced snippet of prose poetry to find an answer that may not turn out to be worth the effort.

The style starts off casual, reaching a conversational level of familiarity with a direct address to "Sophie" before building up more formality in a dry—but not stilted—reference to nutrition. Its culmination in that rigid, parroting sports cliché is meant to be devastating, a triumph of the mundane over the original, but is instead as ineffective as the Tigers' offense itself.

What Romeo's created here is, indeed, a moving glimpse of a moment of disorganized thought and emotion. It hints at a psychological abnormality, perhaps schizophrenia, with its flat cadences and aberrant linguistic linkages. The mention of "auto-immune diseases" and the strange fixation on nutrition also bring to mind paranoia and obsession. The imagery evokes real feeling.

But the verse is ultimately unsatisfying. The first-person narrative varies from direct and refreshing to narcisistic, and the piece's disjointed aspects leave many questions unanswered without signaling which are the important ones. How might one recreate a blog in terms of fiber? I don't have a clue, and, though I care about these characters, I don't care about their triffling mysteries. The audience should expect more—and Romeo should demand less.

On a related note, I was not surprised to hear Romeo's name bandied about in the run-up to the Pulitzer announcement these past few weeks. His 2006 volume, values folder tell, was monumental. In the end, Ms. Trethewey was more deserving, but I'll be happy to see more from Romeo in the future provided he sands down the rough edges a bit.

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Wave of Peace-Rally-Related Violence Continues

Brian

As D-Mac suggests at Philadelphia Will Do, it's more than a little ironic that people continue to be shot at antiviolence meetings throughout Philadelphia. Last week a woman was shot at a peace rally here in West Philly, and Wednesday night police shot a man during a shootout just outside a community rally in the Nicetown section of the city. Clearly one of the most dangerous places you can be in Philadelphia is at an antiviolence meeting.

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Image credits: "An offer of flowers instead," pillpala9, courtesy Flickr, acquired via Creative Commons license.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chaperone Turns Away Girls Whose Prom Dresses Look Like Prom Dresses

Brian
The above dress is too revealing. See how much cleavage it shows? This girl and dozens like her got dressed up for their senior prom at L.W. Higgins High School in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, this past weekend but were turned away at the door:
[A] teacher deemed their dresses too provocative. Most of the offending garb apparently involved excessive display of cleavage.

. . . .

"It's not right," parent Wayne Nelerine said. "It's not right. For 12 years they look for this, and they deny it. They can't do it. It's not right."

One prom-goer said he thinks his date was turned away because of how she's built. He called that "discrimination" and said that's "wrong."
Link (via Feministe). I don't know how much more cleavage this girl could possibly cover up. (Mattingly! I thought I told you to trim those sideburns!) Of course, many parents think that anonymous "prom-goer" is on to something:
Parents lodged several complaints Monday. Some griped that girls whose dresses were equally or more revealing were allowed into the dance and that teachers had approved some of the gowns before the dance but rejected them at the door.

Parents also said that girls with bigger chests have a harder time complying with the dress code.

"There are some breasts you can't hide in a dress," parent Laura Fayette said. "You can't discriminate against a big-breasted woman."

Fayette's son could not get into the prom because his date was one of the girls whose dress did not meet with educators' approval. Fayette said she picked out the gown for the girl and saw nothing wrong with the outfit.

"I think it was very appropriate for a prom," she said. "It wasn't a revealing dress in any way."

Wayne Melerine's daughter, Miranda, asked bluntly, "What do they want us to do, buy a turtleneck dress?"
Link (via Fark). Confidential to any boys from Higgins High who happen to be reading: In my day we would have staged a protest by showing up to school in prom dresses. But really, any excuse to dress in drag, am I right?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Queen Is Acting Like She's Never Seen King Ralph

Brian
They used to say that we Americans, lacking a royal family, treated our Hollywood actors like royalty. The English, lacking a Hollywood, have apparently taken to treating their royalty like Hollywood actors—which is to say, gossiping about them in magazines and nightly entertainment newscasts. The latest Big Story out of Windsorllywood is the apparent breakup of that heir apparent with boy-band looks, Prince William, and his long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton, right on the verge of what everyone assumed would be an engagement. And the lastest angle on that Big Story is that the in-laws were just too common in their interactions with the Queen:
It wasn't Middleton, per se. It was her mother, a former airline flight attendant who was caught on video chewing gum next to her elegantly hatted and serenely smiling daughter at William's graduation from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

There was more. Carole Middleton, who runs a party supply business with her husband and made enough to buy a $2-million house in Berkshire and send her daughter to prestigious Marlborough College, said "toilet" instead of "lavatory." She said "pardon" when she couldn't hear what someone had just said. ("What?" is more posh.)

When she met Queen Elizabeth II, William's grandmother, she said, "Pleased to meet you." Well, columnists wanted to know, who wasn't happy to meet the queen? "Hello, ma'am," was what was called for.
Link (via Language Log). Pardon? Okay, chewing gum and using the word toilet I could see as faux pas: I would feel a little ashamed if I did them at a job interview, much less in an audience with the Queen. But "pleased to meet you" sounds much more formal and respecful to my ear than "hello, ma'am," and I thought "pardon?" was more proper than "what?" In fact, I've been trying to train myself off "what?" for years. Shows what a rube I am. Maybe it's because the Queen actually could pardon you.

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Image credits: "Kate Middleton," Getty Images, courtesy BBC News, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Diverse Housing Options

The Grave Digger
In this day and age, with the real estate market skyrocketing and no bubble burst on the horizon, young urbanites are experiencing increasingly difficulty in finding decent yet affordable housing.

Luckily, all is not lost. An attractive yet affordable Fridge-Box Castle is just within your budget (via Boing Boing). See the section on how to obtain FREE boxes.

Furthermore, let us not ignore the lucrative blanket fort movement that has revolutionized the housing market for single women in their twenties.

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Chimps More Evolved Than Humans

The Grave Digger
Have you been questioning your self-worth? Perhaps you feel primitive, vulnerable, ill-adapted to your environment?

Science has a reason - chimps are more evolved.
Since the human-chimp split about 6 million years ago, chimpanzee genes can be said to have evolved more than human genes, a new study suggests.

The results, detailed online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contradict the conventional wisdom that humans are the result of a high degree of genetic selection, evidenced by our relatively large brains, cognitive abilities and bipedalism.

[...]

Jianzhi Zhang and Margaret Bakewell of the University of Michigan and a colleague found that substantially more genes in chimps evolved in ways that were beneficial than was the case with human genes.
Link. While scientists point to population size playing an important role in natural selection, and therefore our evolutionary lineage, I feel they are overlooking the obvious - the chimp's ability to overcome sterilization, which has been naturally selected for in the recent generations.

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Attack of the Giant Toads

Brian
They've caught a cane toad in Darwin, Australia, "the size of a small dog" at nearly two pounds:
Measuring 20.5cm in length, the colossal male was one of 39 toads caught in the middle of "a breeding frenzy", said FrogWatch co-ordinator Graeme Sawyer.

"The biggest toads are usually females but this one was a rampant male," he said.

"He is huge. I would hate to meet his big sister."

The second largest toad to be caught in Darwin was a female measuring about 15cm.
Link. I'd still rather tangle with that cane toad than have to deal with this (from Cryptomundo):
Robert Oakley, an upholsterer, was found by an officer tearing La Salle street Chicago like a hunted deer. Oakley told Justice Richardson he had been pursued by a frog 6 feet tall, which croaked as loud as a peal of thunder and had eyes as large and fierce as searchlights.

“I don’t care if I did violate an ordinance. I would violate every ordinance in the criminal code before I’d serve as a meal for any four-legged monster. . . ."

The officer who arrested Oakley explained that for some days a man dressed as a frog had been promenading the street advertising some new brand of medicine.

“This prisoner saw the frog,” said the officer, “and his guilty conscience — some say jimjams — caused him to take flight.”

Justice Richardson discharged the man, with a warning to keep away from La Salle street and medicine advertisers or else stay sober.
What happened to the good old days, when we used to just explode them?

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Monday, April 16, 2007

If You're Reproducing Asexually, Don't Fear: Tiny Mites Prove You Can Get Your Libido Back

Brian

German evolutionary biologist Katja Domes has identified a family of mite—it's a tiny type of arachnid—called Crotoniidae that reproduces sexually even though it evolved directly from a related family, Camisiidae, that reproduces without sex:
When it comes to why the Crotoniidae regained sexuality, Domes noted these mites often colonize trees. Tree-dwelling oribatids are nearly all sexual, while soil-dwelling oribatids such as Camisiidae are predominantly parthenogenetic.

. . . .

"The most important implication is that contrary to general opinion, sexual reproduction can be regained long after it is lost," evolutionary geneticist Bill Birky at the University of Arizona told LiveScience.

"This implies that the genes required for producing males can be retained, even when those genes are rarely if ever used to produce males," he said. "This could be because male production is important even though it is rare, or it could be because those genes have important functions other than male production."
Link. Those aren't mites in the picture, but if Pharyngula is good for something it's pictures of spiders getting it on. And lectures about how religion is wrong. More of the latter recently.

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Still Better than "Bennie and the Jets"

Brian
Elton John proves he can write a song on the spot with whatever words he's given. And he proves it with oven instructions:

Link (via Neatorama). Any video is made better with David Copperfield reaction shots.

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They Built the Great Pyramid from the Inside Out

Brian
French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin claims to have solved a riddle nearly as old as that of the Sphinx: how did the ancient Egyptians build the Great Pyramid at Giza? Houdin argues they did it with internal ramps:
Mr Houdin said that an outer ramp all the way to the top of the pyramid would have blocked sight lines and left little room to work, while a long, frontal ramp would have used up too much stone.

Further confusing matters, there is little evidence left of external ramps at the site of the Great Pyramid.

Mr Houdin said the pyramid could have been built by 4,000 people using his technique instead of 100,000, as postulated by other theorists.
Link (via Fortean Times). Apparently had they left the ramps in place, the pyramid would have been ADA compliant.

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Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

Brian
If you really want the local citizenry to go nuts and exercise their right en masse to petition the government for a redress of their grievances, tell them you are thinking of moving elementary school band instruction to after-school hours.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Did You Know . . .

Brian
Sixty-four percent of all people who list "very conservative" as their political preference on Facebook are joking around.

Seventy percent of all people who list "moderate" are actually very conservative.

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Image credits: "Facebook Guy 2004-07," courtesy Mashable, borowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Making the Girlfriend Case

Brian
Maybe I am just in a generous mood, but setting aside the motivations that might drive one to make a list like this and post it to Craigslist, I think this potty-mouthed chick's 143 reasons she'll be a great girlfriend (via Reddit) have a decent endearing-to-creepy ratio. At least they beat out old-timey Mike Blount (beware of sound!). Hopefully, living in the Bay Area, she'll have a decent shot of meeting a single guy.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Arthur Branch '08

Brian
If Fred Dalton Thompson decides to run for President—and he's currently the third most popular Republican without even doing anything to suggest that he is running—who would lose out most? Rudy Guilliani, the current frontrunner? John McCain, whose MySpace page doesn't say anything about running neck-and-neck with the Tennessee Senator? It just might be TNT. Like Reagan and Schwarzenegger, Thompson developed fame as an actor that helped elect him to statewide political office. Unlike those Californians, he continued his acting career after becoming a full-time politician. In his pre-Senate days, Dalton took on supporting roles in such masculine classics as The Hunt for Red October, Die Hard 2, Cape Fear, In the Line of Fire, and Baby's Day Out, basic-cable mainstays that may not be able to air should Thompson officially throw his hat in the ring. But none would have the impact of Turner's inability to show the past five years of Law & Order reruns, starring a post-Senate Thompson as D.A. Arthur Branch:
Federal campaign law requires broadcasters to give all candidates equal time on the airwaves. That rule applies to entertainment programs like "Law & Order," meaning stations that run the show would be required to give other GOP candidates a like amount of prime-time exposure.

With as many as a dozen or more Republican candidates competing for the nomination, that would be prohibitively expensive.

"As a practical matter, [the television stations] would in all likelihood have to pull all of the Fred Thompson shows for the duration of his candidacy," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project.
Link. Which, in the case of TNT, would mean . . .
I guess we'd be seeing a lot more Charmed?

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Where the Boys and Girls Are

Brian

This National Geographic map shows the location and populations of single people in U.S. cities, color-coded to indicate gender disparity. The big centers for single men are all in the West, single women the East. We need to get these two together. Link (thanks, Ian).

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Saturday Morning Cartoon

Brian

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Friday, April 13, 2007

For Your Sunday Brunch

The Grave Digger



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Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's Not the Subway Crowd, It's Joshua Bell

Brian
An anonymous commenter tipped me off to a response to the Joshua Bell story blogged by Natalia Paruz, a New York subway saw musician:
The thing is Joshua Bell is a great violinist but he doesn’t know how to busk. There are violinists who are not even close to being as good as he is (such as Jim Grasec or Lorenzo LaRock), yet they get crowds to stop and listen to them. It’s because when you play on the street you can’t approach it as if you are playing on a stage. Busking is an art form of its own. You need to be as good a musician as to audition for any stage gig (the competition over permits is fierce) but in addition to that you have to relate to the audience and be a real people’s person. You can’t hide behind your instrument and just play, with an invisible wall between you and the audience, the way a stage performance is conducted. In busking you use the passers by as if they were paint and your music is the paint brush - your goal is to create a collective work of art with the people, in the space, in the moment with you and the music.
Link (beware of sound). Incidentally, busking, a term I had never heard before because I'm not British or a busker, is the subject of an excellent movie I just saw at the Philadelphia Film Festival, Once. I recommend it whenever it is actually released.

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The Imagined Nineteenth-Century Portraiture of Travis A. Louie

Brian
A day before the opening of the 1939 World's Fair, Gill pulled himself out of the great Flushing Bay and headed toward Main Street. After eating a hotdog and a strawberry ice cream soda, he went back into the Bay.

He reappeared many decades later in the upper deck of Shea stadium during the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox. He was enjoying a hotdog and a beer.
New photographs of paintings made to look like old photographs: the unusal work of Travis A. Louie is available for viewing on Flickr (via growabrain).

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Select Questions and Concerns about Traffic Cones from the Wikipedia Discussion Page for 'Traffic Cone'

Brian
Please explain why stealing pylons is popular with drunk students? This is ageist. Substantiate this claim with a legitimate source.
 —Anonymous

Twice this article uses the word "delignation." This word is not found in the dictionary. It's probably a misspelling of something (I just found some other misspellings, including ones added in the same edit) but I'm not sure of what. Perhaps "delineation?" But I'm not sure; the phrases "situations requiring traffic delineation" and "warning or delineation devices" don't seem right to me. But perhaps they're part of traffic management or road work lingo. I wouldn't know anything about that.
 —202.225.9.142

Impressive is what I call it. I'd like to see anyone, especially drunk steal a pylon! Does this word have a different meaning where you live?
 —boffy_b

These are about 1m high orange-and-white striped barrels used as barriers where a cone may not be heavy-duty enough. Should the article talk about these? I saw no reference to them.
 —crazytales

Although I do not have a "legitimate" source, I do have firsthand experience with this act. Once, I had observed one of these pylons in the storage area in my friend's pickup truck. When confronted, he responded, "Oh, you know. Well, it’s like this. Some chick said that she'd have sex with me if I stole it." While I did not witness the sexual act, I saw the traffic cone and assumed that he had indeed engaged in sexual intercourse.
 —Nomadiccheese


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American Airlines Launches Dumbed-Down, Stereotype-Laden "Women's" Website

Brian
I suppose it demonstrates good intentions that American Airlines launched a website "dedicated to connecting women who travel." But do women need things to be pink and simpler?
Psssst. Women like clothes. Mention that on the site. This is awesome. They're totally going to fly our airline now. Make the search box pink, and get rid of all those "tools," women hate tools.
Link (via Feministing). I can't decide if my using the women's search box rather than the one for the general public will only encourage them, but I kind of want to.

[UPDATE: American has changed the page entirely due to complaints.]

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Beef on Potatoes

The Grave Digger
If you are an extraordinarily loyal Achewood fan much like myself, you'll be pleased to see an excerpt from 'The Achewood Cookbook' over at Salon. These recipes are by Chris Onstad, Achewood creator, written from the point of view of his characters.

Included in Roast Beef's recipe for home fries is some good old-fashioned restaurant criticism:
I have seen a lot of breakfast restaurants try to make up for all of their other shortcomings (lousy tea, filthy bathroom with a safe in it, waiters with dreadlocks) by putting like ten spices on the home fries.

DANG

Ray offers advice for wine-enjoying:

If you take a sip and you completely hate it because it is awful, then there is a problem with the wine. Sometimes wine interacts with the cork and tastes like a swamp. You can return that wine to the store for a full refund. If they say you've had too much of it, maybe go through the produce section and kind of knock some fruit down on the floor.

Really, you should just go read it for yourself. Never hesitate to take advice from cartoon cats, culinary or otherwise.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

Brian
How many old cars do you have in your front yard? You probably have four times that many tires that you could be bringing to the recycling center's waste tire collection.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Subway Concert

Brian
Joshua Bell in a baseball cap.
A Stradivarius, its case open to receive spare change.
Bach and Schubert filling Washington's L'Enfant Plaza Metro station.
In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

. . . .

With "Chaconne," the opening is filled with a building sense of awe. That kept him busy for a while. Eventually, though, he began to steal a sidelong glance.

"It was a strange feeling, that people were actually, ah . . ."

The word doesn't come easily.

". . . ignoring me."

Bell is laughing. It's at himself.
Link, videos included (via Neatorama).

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An Easter Conspiracy from Cadbury?

Brian
Could it be? Are the eggs actually . . . shrinking?

(via YesButNoButYes)
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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Goldfish Lives in Working Deep Fryer

Brian
In a giant step in both technology and sustainable cooking, a company called WaterFryer has invented a deep fryer with water on the bottom. Since the oil sits directly on the water, any crumbs that fall during the frying process will fall straight into the cool water, preserving the oil from getting dirty and scorched, and, in the case of foods that contain water, reducing the chance of an explosion and fire. And as a bonus, a restaurant in Japan even stuck a fish in the water, where he can supposedly live for years off the falling crumbs so long as he doesn't venture too close to the oil line (via BoingBoing). Or, if the fish prove too dumb, I suppose Long John Silver's could save on labor costs by having the fish fry themselves.

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Saturday Morning Cartoon

Brian

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Falling For You

The Grave Digger
It was a typical Monday in Nanjing (capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu). Workers were emptying the building's septic tank, and a woman was hanging laundry on her sixth-floor balcony. Then - disaster was narrowly averted.
"She probably stretched out too far and fell ... right on to a 20 cm-thick heap of excrement," [the Kuaibao tabloid said].

The woman suffered only slight injuries, the newspaper said.
Link. I wish I could say this was the first time I was forced to blog about feces, but this is sadly not the case.

Earlier this year, Joshua Hanson of Blair, Wisconsin was taken to a hospital with broken bones and internal injories after hecrashed through a double-paned window in a hotel and plummeted 16 floors. He survived when he was caught by a roof overhang.

According to a police report, Hanson and two friends returned from a night of drinking[...] When the elevator reached the 17th floor, Hanson ran down a short hallway toward a floor-to-ceiling window[...]
He apparently lost his balance and crashed through the glass, then fell 300 feet, landing on the roof overhang one floor up from the street.
Link. According to Tom Mason, general manager of the Hyatt, the window was double-paned and had a safety bar. Mason added that hotel officials will investigate and take whatever steps to ensure the hotel's safety.

And Now We Pause for Alanis Morissette Singing My Humps

Brian

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bees Are Mysteriously Disappearing, Planning Something?

Brian
America's bee population is going the way of the Roanoke colony:
Now, at the beginning of the 2007 pollination season, more than half of [beekeeper James Doan's] 4,300 hives are gone. "I'm just about ready to give up," says Mr. Doan from his honeybee wintering site in Ft. Meade, Fla. "I'm not sure I can survive."

. . . .

Scientists call it "colony collapse disorder" (CCD). First reported in Florida last fall, the problem has since spread to 24 states. Commercial beekeepers are reporting losses of between 50 and 90 percent, an unprecedented amount even for an industry accustomed to die-offs.

. . . .

[B]eekeepers are seeing hives empty in a matter of weeks, sometimes days. The entire adult bee population vanishes, except for a few juveniles. This makes CCD difficult to study. "You have a crime scene, you know a crime happened here, but you don't really have evidence," says Medhat Nasr, provincial apiculturalist in Alberta, Canada. Eerily, the stored honey in the hive remains untouched. Raiding bees from nearby colonies never materialize, as is common.

Records of suddenly empty hives go back as far as the late 1800s, but never on this scale. Beekeepers dubbed it "autumn collapse," "spring dwindle," or "disappearing disease." But Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the acting Penn State apiarist, calls this manifestation the AIDS of bees. The remaining juvenile bees appear to be rife with disease. To him, "It's clear that there is an immune suppression," he says.

What might suppress a bee's immune system is anyone's guess. But many ascribe to a tipping-point theory: A variety of factors may have accumulated until a single straw finally broke the bee's back.
Link. I think Fark might have a guess as to where they all are going.

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Climate Change Will Lead to Heretofore Unforeseen Zones

Brian
Scientific American reports that a team of ecologists and a climatologist have determined that current trends in climate change, if left unabated, will destroy current climate zones and invent completely new ones no one has ever seen before:
In the case of unchecked emissions, "we are going to be seeing climates that certainly are completely outside the range of modern human experience," [University of Wyoming ecologist Stephen] Jackson says. According to the analysis, new climates would be most dramatic in the rain forests of the Amazon and Indonesia, but would extend as far toward the poles as the American southeast.

Climate disappearance would occur in tropical mountains and near the poles, including regions such as the Andes, the African highlands, Indonesia and the Philippines, parts of the Himalayas and near the Arctic. With nowhere to go, species in these regions might become extinct, the group notes in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
Link. If we're lucky, global warming could lead to new and fanciful biomes like grassbeach desert and smundra.

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Image credits: Still image from the
Twilight Zone, courtesy YouTube, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Keith Richards Did a Line of His Father's Ashes

Brian
Rolling Stones guitar god Keith Richards has snorted many things in his day, far too many to recall, but one that will always give him fond memories is his father:
"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," he said.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared, he didn't give a s***.

"It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Richards' father, Bert, died in 2002 aged 84.
Link (via Swampland). I wonder what it smelled like. Brown sugar?

UPDATE

So, even though Keith's manager said it wasn't true, Keith now says it really was.

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Image credits: Keith Richards, chromedonut, courtesy
Worth 1000, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

I Am a Music Marketing Genius

Brian
Snoop Dogg : Lil Bow Wow :: Fitty Cent :
Fitteen Cent

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Fraternadentical Twins

Brian
Vivienne Souter, a geneticist at the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, has discovered a pair of twins that are semi-identical, that is, halfway between identical and fraternal:
Here's how it happened: Two sperm cells fertilized one egg—an event assumed to be very rare—then split into two embryos.

. . . .

The semi-identical twins only came to the attention of Souter and her colleagues because one had ambiguous genitalia. The child was born a "true hermaphrodite" with both ovarian and testicular tissue. The other twin is a male, anatomically.
Link (via Fortean Times). Aha! So two sperm can fertilize an egg at once. Yet another point on which my middle school sex ed teacher was wrong.

She also told the class that it was impossible for a man to urinate while he has an erection. At which I wondered, Oh yeah? Then what am I doing in my pants right now?

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Image credits: "New York Minute," courtesy Ahafilm, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

My Sweet Lord

The Grave Digger

You make one chocolate Jesus, and everyone gets in a huff.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Music for April

Brian

Here's some music. April fools?

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Five Years x Nine Storeys = One Survival + One Crater

Brian
Five-year-old Yong Jin Kim got the Shayna-Richardson-Michael-Holmes treatment at a Hamilton, Ontario, children's hospital. Only he didn't have have the benefit of a parachute, failed or no, and he actually left an impact crater (via Fark).

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