30 October 2006

Elsewhere: Science

Scientists confirm flamingos are composed almost entirely of erectile tissue:
“[T]hey bend their necks, tilt their bills upside down in the water and swish their heads from side-to-side. Their large tongue acts like a piston, sucking water into the front of the bill and then pushing it out the sides. Fringed plates on the tongue trap algae and crustaceans in the circulating water.”
MIT researchers have developed a gasoline engine which looks like an Apple iBook.

Oregon psychologist Dr. Matthew Johnson has discoverd Bigfoot is a mild laxative:
"We continued to hike up the trail...I heard a faint sound (i.e., “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!)...

Don’t ask me why but we continued to walk up the mountain through the very tall trees and brush. The sound continued in cycles of five to six repetitions (i.e., Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa). Louder and louder. Now the sounds were behind us.

I started putting one and one together in my mind and my biological “fight or flight” responses kicked in. I stopped my family on the trail. I told them to stay quiet. I hiked up the hill to our left because I had to go poop ASAP...While I was doing my duty, I was scanning the woods down the mountain on the other side...That’s when I saw it. I saw it come out from behind one tree to the left and walk to another tree to the right...

I was the only one who saw Bigfoot because I had hiked up off the trail high enough to see it. I can’t tell you what it looked like other than it was very tall, looked half-human and half ape, walked upright, and had very dark hair (i.e., a mix of very dark brown and/or black hair)."
Strangely, the Bigfoot described by Dr. Johnson sounds and looks like Brad Delp, lead singer of the 70’s rock band Boston. Delp's vocal stylings, in particular his sustained high notes, were also known to be capable of inducing bowel movements.

24 October 2006

From Ultima Thule to Des Moines

Greenland is slowly running out of ice, yet my freezer, like the freezer of most Americans, is practically overflowing with the stuff. We take our great abundance for granted. I’m doing my part by using one less cube per highball, which works out to 7 or 8, possibly 12 cubes conserved per day.

Meanwhile closer to home, our old friend Dr. Sue Savage Rumbagh is in the news again. As you may remember, she’s the scientist who provided a group of apes with a large (13,000-square-foot) and luxurious (indoor waterfall, gourmet kitchen) home in the hopes the beasts would learn language, music and art.1 That hasn’t happened2, but one of the apes, Panbanisha, has learned how to pull the fire alarm.

Some are describing this as a breakthrough (“Brian O'Keefe said Monday it was the first known case of an animal setting off a fire alarm in Des Moines”), but given this projects grandiose aims (music?) and expense (the home by itself cost $10 million), even if the monkey’s3 were to progress to doing better pranks such as egging cars or leaving flaming bags of dog-doo on peoples porches, it would still not be enough to proclaim success.

1Dr. Rumbaugh’s thinking is similar to parents who send their children to expensive colleges.

2With the children either.

3I write about apes, chimps, and monkeys far more than is healthy.

UPDATE (Bonus monkey business): Jihadi monkey behind bars! A correspondent alerted me to a Mohammedan monkey in India who's been imprisoned for repeatedly attacking Hindus:
Raised by a Muslim family in Jagannathpur village, Ramu allegedly attacked some Hindu children five years ago, sparking communal tension in the area. Police arrested Ramu.

But the monkey won over the men in uniform with his naughty ways and a police peace committee decided to set Ramu free after a “serious debate”.

Once freed, the monkey went back to his old ways, refusing to become “secular”. Ramu continued his jihad and landed behind bars again — this time for good. The police built a special iron cell for the “terrorist”.

22 October 2006

Elsewhere: Sports

Hunting wolves with eagles in Kazakhstan.

Baseball Lingo 101 from Mortimer Shy.

Only two weeks until the 2006 Breeders' Cup.

Watch your chances fade

While GOP candidates across the country watch their electoral chances fade, Ron Saxton, the Republican challenger for Governor of Oregon, has pulled even in the polls with Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski.

What’s Saxton’s secret?
“Saxton pushed the issue [illegal immigration] the hardest, accusing Kulongoski's government of enabling illegal immigrants to use driver's licenses to gain taxpayer services and to vote - and vowing to make sure immigration laws are enforced.”
Republican losers take note: Oregon's a state that voted Democratic in the last five presidential elections.

18 October 2006

Every dot and line

"From the age of six I could draw forms and objects. By 50 I had turned out an infinite number of drawings. But I am not happy about anything I did before 70. Only at 73 did I begin to understand the true form and nature of birds, fish and plants. By 80 I had made a lot of progress. At 90 I will begin to get to the root of it all. By 100 I will have reached a Superior State in art, undefinable, and by 110, every dot and line will be living"
- Hokusai

Seven Blunders

With the public being asked to choose the New Seven Wonders of the World, I thought I would examine the merits of seven of the 21 candidates.

1. Stonehenge. Why is it no one ever saw fit to mention this ‘wonder’ in print until 1902? For two reasons: 1. a bunch of large rocks in a circle isn’t wondrous. 2. Stonehenge didn’t exist prior to the 1890’s, having been constructed not by ancient druids, but by drunken university students.

2. The Great Wall of China. Proponents of this ‘wonder’ concede, as they’ve no other choice, that walls, in and of themselves, are boring, but argue because the Great Wall of China is very, very long, it is, therefore, a wonder. Which is absurd. How can more of something boring be not more boring, or at the very least as boring, but somehow less boring? It’s logically impossible. Boring meetings don’t become less boring the longer they last; boring people don’t become less boring the more one’s around them; no sane person thinks adding deleted scenese to the director’s cut DVD of My Dinner With Andre would transform the film into something exciting.

3. The Pyramids. If the pyramids are such a wonder, why do pyramid people constantly lie about them? I’m referring to the silly claim the construction of the pyramids was a feat which couldn’t be duplicated today. I’ve got bad news for the pyramid people: as anyone who has ever watched a skyscraper being built knows, a crew using a single large crane could assemble a pile of blocks into a pyramid shape as big as any in Egypt in a matter of weeks, instead of years.

4. Alhambra, Spain. On the list to meet pee-cee demands to include something by the Musselmen.

5. The robot head the astronauts discovered on the moon. Truly a wonder, ineligible because it’s not of this world.

6. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany. On the list to meet pee-cee demands to include something by the homosexualists.

7. Timbuktu city, Mali. Like Reno, Nevada, Timbuktu is a small city in the desert featuring a number of silly looking buildings. Unlike Reno, the buildings in Timbuktu are made of mud. Poor Reno, if only your casinos were made of mud instead of concrete, glass, and steel, you too could be a wonder of the world!

17 October 2006

400,000,000

In an essay on population growth for the Wall Street Journal, Joel Kotkin explains how only good is likely to result from America’s demographic transformation because, well because, claims securing the border will dampen “entrepenurial energy”, and observes:

“If you want to find the newest and biggest Chinese supermarkets, Hindu temples, or mosques, the best place to look is not the teeming cities but the outer suburbs of Los Angeles, New York or Houston.”

I have no reason to think Kotkin’s wrong as to where these things are, but why am I supposed to want to find them?

16 October 2006

Microsharking

Muhammad Yunus has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his practice of loaning small amounts of money to impoverished people.

I often give change, sometimes even a dollar, to the various hobos in my neighborhood. Today I went around and informed them they had to pay me that money back, with interest.

Spheres

"[T]he most pressing problem of good (and that automatically implies ethical) government lies today in building up defence machineries around spheres in which the person should have power and self-government approximately commensurate with his own capacities. The Middle Ages and their aftermath were characterized by a multitude of such autonomous and semi-autonomous spheres; medieval man frequently belonged to a variety of these."
- Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality: p. 119.

11 October 2006

Yesterday's papers

At times it’s almost as if The Tide News Online (motto: “A commitment to truth”) publishes certain stories with me in mind. This week’s example: helpful sex education advice from Tide intern and Bill Bennett admirer Akang.

Also: The Illustrated London News Archive.

09 October 2006

NoK NoK Jokes

The fall out from the North Korean nuclear test continues to spread.

The North Koreans, angered by Japan’s refusal to allow North Korean synchronized swimmers compete at last month’s Swimming World Cup, have described Japan’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics as “an insult”. According to a North Korean spokesman, “This is enough to make a cat laugh”.

Relations between North Korea and the United States deteriorated further as well after Kim Jong-Il revealed he too was a recipient of obscene text messages from homosexualist former Republican Congressman Mark Foley. According to a North Korean spokesman, “These messages are enough to make a cat laugh. And feel creeped out”.

When I hear the word diversity I reach for my gun

I’m not the only one, it seems, as new research has found increased diversity means decreased trust. [via Mangan]

Abadie & Eugène Ogé


The exquisitely fine Abadie cigarette rolling papers are1 a classic brand. The above Abadie publicity poster from 1904 by Eugène Ogé is a classic as well. I find the artistry, irreverence, and humor of it delightful. It captures the spirit and freedom of another time, when tastes were better and simple pleasures like jokes and smoking were not subject to persecution by tedious scolds.

1Or were, I'm not sure if they are still being made.

08 October 2006

A new era of insecurity

We have entered a new era of insecurity. I’m referring, of course, to the menace posed by brick throwing monkeys:

New Delhi, October 8 A 30-year-old woman who had come to AIIMS to see her nephew a dengue patient in the hospital, died after a monkey threw a brick at her inside the hospital complex

The North Korean nuclear test is unsettling as well, but imagine a future (or don’t imagine, if you’re the nervous type) where brick throwing monkeys have managed to spread out from India to infest hospital complexes throughout the globe.

Not all today’s news is bad, as there have been no new reports of the Sandsend blob bothering people.

05 October 2006

Le Quizzo

Le Quizzo is back. Le Quizzo is from the swamps and it’s contagious. Try not to catch Le Quizzo.

Bird friend: Woodpecker

Bird enemy: Crow

Drum solo that changed your life: Echo, track 2 from Tony Williams' Spring. This 5 minute drum solo did more than change my life, it changed me on a sub-atomic level. And I have the scans to prove it.

Blob that changed your life: Sandsend Blob

Book that made you cry: Totally Unauthorized Secrets to Donkey Kong Country 2

Book that made you keen, caterwaul, and bewail: Roget’s Thesaurus

How do you like your Ines? Smoking and nipply

Paper of record: Daily Racing Form

Desert island donut: Glazed

Aren’t you sorry/glad you met Le Quizzo? Don’t pass it on.

Linguistic tour

Lately I’ve noticed people on the television and the radio - and only people on the television and the radio - saying ‘tour’ so it rhymes with ‘for’. Whereas I, everyone I know, and the dictionary pronounce ‘tour’ rhyming with ‘lure’.

Is this mispronunciation taught in broadcasting school? I’m going to avoid television, radio, and sobriety for the next few months in the hopes this irritating verbal tic is only a passing fad.

04 October 2006

The Black Blob of Sandsend

A creature eyewitnesses describe as a 4ft tall black blob resembling a bean bag chair has been frightening the innocent people of Sandsend:
"The dog spotted it and went racing up to see it off so it was obvious by her natural chasing instinct that this was some wild animal.

"As she approached it the odd thing was that there was no scuffle or running involved. The black thing seemed to glide sidewards very gracefully and quietly like a ghost into the grass. "The dog then ran up through the hedge and she gave a yelp."
I suspect the “creature” was actually one of those morbidly obese pre-teens so ubiquitous these days, but I will continue to keep an eye on this story as there’s a remote possibility it might lead to some sort of cryptozoological breakthrough.

In other news, Indonesian Islamofascists have opened a new front in the ongoing Jihad by launching a series of attacks against a banyan tree. Apparently the 100 year old tree possesses mystical powers, something the Musselmen find intolerable. Though slightly damaged, so far the tree appears to be winning.

03 October 2006

Camera Man

According to Owen Barfield:
"A representative Camera Man believes "that the mind is something which is shut up in a sort of box called the brain." He accepts "that the mind of man is a passive onlooker at the processes and phenomena of nature, in the creation of which it neither takes nor has taken any part." He accepts "the fallacy that there are many separate minds but no such thing as Mind"

Understood in light of the evolution of consciousness, Barfield insists, the camera must be seen as a caricature of imagination, although it is a true emblem of perspective. Imagination is living, perspective only "lifelike." It used to be said that the camera cannot lie. But in fact it always does lie. Just because it looks only in that immediate way, the camera looks always at and never into what it sees. I suspect that Medusa did very much the same...

"We live in a camera civilization," Barfield observes in "The Harp and the Camera." "Our entertainment is camera entertainment. Our holidays are camera holidays. We make them so by paying more attention to the camera we brought with us than to the waterfall we are pointing it at. Our science is almost entirely a camera science...and it is already becoming self-evident to camera man that only camera words have any meaning"
- Encyclopedia Barfieldiana

Expectations

"The average man always clings despairingly to cliches. If one takes them away from him, he has to do his own research, his own thinking and deciding and has to begin anew. One can't really expect this sort of elitist behavior from such poor folks." - Eric von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

01 October 2006

Color it is in sense

When not eating former Kentucky Derby Winning race horses or ice cream which tastes like race horses, it would seem the Japanese people spend the day sending me emails. Hundreds of them. Unfortunately, the emails are all in Japanese, which I can’t read. But through that miracle of modern compu-tology known as Google Language Tools I’ve been translating them. One particularly profound correspondent wrote:

Very the adult the community of atmosphere. When you express in one word, the maniac it is the sight where the people get together. It does not go with to the ripening woman, but well enough the woman of seniority being many, the shank. Because by his is still younger one, it had making to the people study who meet here various types. Color it is in sense. As for me when if anything the junior child is the taste, but good quality of seniority you tasted here. Rather than how you say, or there is a magnanimity, it is with the shank, settling, the [ru]. Well, even with the money regardless there is a room in life, it is probably will be. Simply, to rust and force heart and the body, like.

Years from now, maybe when you are driving, maybe when you are half asleep in front of the TV, maybe when you are lying in a hospital bed, these words will come back to you, and you will find yourself wanting to shout if not actually shouting, “Of course! That’s it exactly!”

Locke Picked

“Civil governments were formed not by the concurrence of individuals, but by the association of families.” – Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke [via Eunomia]

What you should know

“A young man should be computer literate, and moreover should know Hemingway from James Joyce. He should know how to drive a car well - such as is not covered in "Driver Ed." He should know how to fly a light airplane. He should know how to shoot well. He should know elementary geography, both worldwide and local. He should have a cursory knowledge of both zoology and botany. He should know the fundamentals of agriculture and corporate economy. He should be well qualified in armed combat, boxing, wrestling, judo, or the equivalent. He should know how to manage a motorcycle. He should be comfortable in at least one foreign language, and more if appropriate to his background. He should be familiar with remedial medicine.”
Col. Jeff Cooper

Col. Cooper, who among other things was the “father of what is commonly known as "The Modern Technique" of handgun shooting, and considered by many to be the world's foremost expert on the use and history of small arms,” died last Monday. He was 86.