Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NY Times: Beware the Bumper Sticker quote

Falser Words Were Never Spoken


Gandhi's words have been tweaked a little too in recent years. Perhaps you've noticed a bumper sticker that purports to quote him: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

When you first come across it, this does sound like something Gandhi would have said. But when you think about it a little, it starts to sound more like ... a bumper sticker. Displayed brightly on the back of a Prius, it suggests that your responsibilities begin and end with your own behavior. It's apolitical, and a little smug

Sure enough, it turns out there is no reliable documentary evidence for the quotation. The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this: "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do."

Here, Gandhi is telling us that personal and social transformation go hand in hand, but there is no suggestion in his words that personal transformation is enough. In fact, for Gandhi, the struggle to bring about a better world involved not only stringent self-denial and rigorous adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence; it also involved a steady awareness that one person, alone, can't change anything, an awareness that unjust authority can be overturned only by great numbers of people working together with discipline and persistence.

When you start to become aware of these bogus quotations, you can't stop finding them. Henry James, George Eliot, Picasso — all of them are being kept alive in popular culture through pithy, cheery sayings they never actually said.

full @

Keepin' it Real

My Junior High English teacher required each of us to stand in front of the class and deliver a persuasive speech.

This is what I did:

When my name was called, I walked to the front of the class and stood behind the podium.

I said,

"The three key elements of a successful speech are;
* be brief,
* be to-the-point,
* be seated."

Then I walked back to my desk.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Borowitz Report: Guess who loves Cheney's book

Borowitz Report Email

Borowitz Report
August 30, 2011

Cheney's Book Features Foreword by Satan

'Couldn't Put it Down,' Says Prince of Darkness

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – Publishing circles were abuzz today with the news that the new memoir by former Vice President Dick Cheney features a foreword by an unusual contributor: Satan.

In his introduction, the Prince of Darkness said he rarely reads political memoirs but made an exception in the case of Mr. Cheney "because we had worked so closely together in the past."

When he began to read the Cheney manuscript, however, the Lord of Misrule said he was "surprised" by what he found.

"Quite honestly, I couldn't put it down," Satan wrote.  "It was almost like a book I would have written myself."

In what could be construed as minor criticism of the book, Satan admitted he was "miffed" that Mr. Cheney took total credit for the idea of invading Iraq, but added, "We were such close collaborators at the time, it may be hard for Dick to remember whose idea was whose – half the time we were finishing each other's sentences."

While Satan said he is unlikely to make a habit of writing introductions to books, he said that he could foresee making another exception in the future: "I've heard Rupert Murdoch is working on his memoir."

Elsewhere, after Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) said God created last week's earthquake and hurricane to punish America, God issued this rebuttal: "Actually, that's why I created Michele Bachmann."


The Borowitz Report: Waste Someone's Time: Forward to a Friend.

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Remove me from this list.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Alas, shark in the street photo was fake. Aw Snap!


surprising endorsement

Bill Clinton Endorses Michelle Bachmann                                   

   ... and I simply can't understand why ...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Paul Simms: “God’s Blog.”

Humor from the New Yorker:

Philadelphia hurricane : Sept 6, 1775

from the Peter Wentz Farmstead FB page:

A search of the Virginia Gazette noted a hurricane that produced damage in Philadelphia in mid-September 1775.

a transcription of it is below... enjoy!

"PHILADELPHIA. September 6,  All last week we had squally weather and rain, but on Saturday evening it began to blow hard at N.E. and S.E. and by midnight increased to a hurricane, attended with heavy floods of rain, which raised the tide in our river higher than has been known these several years, and has occasioned much damage in the stores on the wharves, among sugar, salt, and other perishable articles; wood, staves, plank, &c. was washed off the wharves, and many boats and small craft were sunk or beat to pieces. We hear the above storm has done considerable damage along the river, by breaking the banks of the meadows, drowning cattle, &c. We hear that no less than 30 sail of vessels are ashore in our river, among which are the ship Caesar, capt. Miller; brig Rachel, capt. Clay, at Reedy Island, the brig Betsy, capt. Douglass, at Rombay Hook, the others were chiefly river craft, many of which are drove so high on the shore that they will be hardly worth the expence of launching."

Humor : The Angry Birds Deal With Post-Traumatic Stress

 Humor : The Angry Birds Deal With Post-Traumatic Stress


Blue Bird: Bartender! Another three drinks!

Bartender: Don't you think you've had enough, Blue Bird?

Blue Bird: Goddammit, I'm drinking for three birds. THREE BIRDS.

Bartender: [quietly] I know it feels that way, Blue Bird, but they're all just you.

Blue Bird: [slightly frantic] Bring me another three drinks, or so help me god, I will divide in mid air and explode this bar in several places at once! Every single bottle will shatter, even if the wooden portions of the bar stay intact, dammit!

Bartender: They're all. Just. You.

Blue Bird: [weakly] Dammit, Jim, you don't know what it was like over there. The weird mustaches some of those pigs would wear.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stupid robots take to the stage

Ever worry that robots are getting a little too smart? If science fiction has taught us anything, it's that it won't be long until the machines take over. Thankfully, some people are dedicated to keeping our metal friends dumb.

, the Stupid Robot Championship, is a showcase for just such robots. The event takes place on 30 October in Budapest, Hungary, and has three main rules: the robots must operate automatically, they must be useless and they must be funny.

The contest originated in Japan - "baka" means "stupid" in Japanese - running in 2007 and 2008 before moving to Hungary in 2010. Entries last year included the Binbot, which attempts to follow a model fly where ever it goes, a hula-hooping bot powered by an electric drill, and a pair of shivering robots that live in a fridge.

While Bacarobo may not be as high-tech as other robotics contests such as the
Robocup, which aims to develop robot football players good enough to defeat a human team by 2050, the organisers do hope the event will raise the profile of robotics in Budapest and Europe.

The designer of the winning robot will also receive a €2000 prize.

Italian police arrest 'gladiators' by Colosseum

 news item:

Italian police have arrested 20 gladiator impersonators, in an undercover operation outside the Colosseum in Rome.

The suspects are accused of intimidating and attacking their competitors, to win a share in a lucrative business.
The men, who dress up in ancient Roman costume, are a familiar feature of the Rome tourist scene.
They can charge up to 10 euros for having a photo taken with tourists
For the police operation officers dressed up as gladiators themselves to infiltrate the gangs.
Other officers, disguised as dustbin men and members of the public, took part in the raid.

full @


OK, so we have on the scene:

1) The "Official" Gladiators
2) The "Impostor" Gladiators
3) The Police dressed at Gladiators
4) Police dressed as trashmen
5) Police dressed as members of the public.

Was there anybody on the scene who WASN'T pretending to be somebody else?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why the East Coast Earthquake Was Felt So far Away

Philly is a sadder place "witout" him

South Philly legend Joey Vento, who opened Geno's Steaks at 9th and Passyunk in 1966, died Tuesday of a massive heart attack.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake - Magnitude 5.9 - in Mineral VA. We felt it here.

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake rattled the east coast of the United States, today. The tremor was felt at least as far north as New York and at least as far south as Virginia.

The United States Geological Survey says the earthquake happened at 1:51 p.m. ET with an epicenter nine miles south of Mineral, Virginia and had a depth of 1 km.

FW: Missing half of lager yeast genome

 from my beer-brewing buddy Sam:


Thought you might find this interesting:

In the 15th century, when Europeans first began moving people and goods across the Atlantic, a microscopic stowaway somehow made its way to the caves and monasteries of Bavaria.

The stowaway, a yeast that may have been transported from a distant shore on a piece of wood or in the stomach of a fruit fly, was destined for great things. In the dank caves and monastery cellars where 15th century brewmeisters stored their product, the newly arrived yeast fused with a distant relative, the domesticated yeast used for millennia to make leavened bread and ferment wine and ale. The resulting hybrid—representing a marriage of species as evolutionarily separated as humans and chickens—would give us lager, the clear, cold-fermented beer first brewed by 15th century Bavarians and that today is among the most popular—if not the most popular—alcoholic beverage in the world.

And while scientists and brewers have long known that the yeast that gives beer the capacity to ferment at cold temperatures was a hybrid, only one player was known: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast used to make leavened bread and ferment wine and ale. Its partner, which conferred on beer the ability to ferment in the cold, remained a puzzle, as scientists were unable to find it among the 1,000 or so species of yeast known to science.

Monday, August 22, 2011

This book should be #2 on your Summer Reading List

With thousands of business books published annually, it would seem that just about every workplace-related topic has been thoroughly exhausted–many times over–by the armies of experts who churn out these things. Not so. For there's a workplace activity that few dare to speak about but millions engage in every day: Going to the bathroom at work.

Now, thank goodness, two Brits (but of course) have ridden to the rescue: How to Poo at Work is a soon-to-be-published guide on how to avoid flushing one's career away through inadvertent breaches of bathroom etiquette. Seriously, this is an actual book, to be published this December by the Penguin Group, complete with charts, diagrams and bullet points. Topics covered include what to do if you're on your way (urgently) to the restroom and your boss stops you in the hallway to engage in a long-winded discussion about his dog or family, the importance of avoiding eye contact in the restroom, how to deal with the fact that the bathroom is immediately adjacent to the office gossip's desk, etc.

The book (whose authors are "Mats" and "Enzo" and who, according to the press release, "live and poop in France") is clearly humorous, but there's practical career advice lurking within as well. After all, who hasn't had to excuse themselves in the midst of an important presentation to attend to some necessary bodily function? Does your company's intranet have an advice section on topics such as this? I'm guessing not! Think of all the talent in your organization desperately straining to find advice on, say, what to do when they discover their stall is out of toilet paper … looking them in the eye, handing them a copy of How to Poo at Work and muttering "You'll thank me later" just may land HR in that coveted seat at the table … or not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

FW: Always a bridesmaid, never a bride

from my friend Michael Strieb :

Did you hear what happened when the Apollo 11 astronauts were invited to the White House for the 40th anniversary celebration?

Aldrin and Armstrong went in to meet the President while Michael Collins stayed in the car and circled th
e block.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Texas Pride

Monday, August 08, 2011

for fans of Futurama: Dr. Zoidberg's Origins

Dr. Zoidberg's Origins

Just what should an incompetent space crab physician sound like, anyway? Well, according to Billy West, Zoidberg was inspired by Lou Jacobi's performance in The Diary of Anne Frank.

He imagined Zoidberg to have Yiddish mannerisms because of his last name, and he also admitted he was attracted to the idea of a doctor that was poor!

Friday, August 05, 2011

You need this

"It's a Hawaiian shirt!"

     "No, it's a Star Wars shirt!"


     "Star Wars!"

Hold it, you two. It's BOTH!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

It's International India Pale Ale Day

Founded by two real, life beer bloggers (@TheBeerWench and @RyanARoss), International #IPADay is a grassroots movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation together.

On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beers most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale.

This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations making it the perfect style to galvanize the craft beers social voice.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Whew, that was close.

Would the world be the same if the role of Terminator had gone to O.J. Simpson?

It's impossible to say but fun to ponder.

Take a look back at actors who were almost cast in major roles.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

It’s Michelada Time !

While it continues to astonish me how the michelada — the Mexican doctored beer that is a godsend in these dog days — remains unknown even to many of my well-traveled drink-hound friends, there's also something about that which I enjoy. Most Mexican restaurants in New York, both high and low on the ladder, pull a puzzled face when you request one.

It remains that magnificent treat you somehow only remember when you cross the border to Mexico, plunking into a cafe seat on that first exhausting afternoon, contemplating what to order. Suddenly it hits that you are back in the land of micheladas. The first sip occasions the same reaction: Why don't I drink these all the time? Some treats are best savored in their natural habit. But when New York becomes synonymous with the Sonoran Desert, bringing Mexican heat-wrangling know-how to one's home glass is a savvy tactical maneuver.

The michelada neatly bridges two unsung categories of drinks I happen to love: savory cocktails and beer cocktails. Nailing down exactly what is in a michelada, or its sibling, the chelada, is like defining Zen; there is a set of acceptable ingredients from which you choose your tastes and proceed. As a loose definition, a michelada has some kind of tomato juice in it, often Clamato, and a chelada doesn't. (I find myself preferring the "without" kind, but it all depends on appetite, disposition, the angle of the sun and what the mariachi band is playing.) It could be considered a cousin of the Bloody Mary, or a spiced-up version of a Midwestern staple, the Red Eye.

In different regions of Mexico, what comes to the table when you order a michelada is what came when you ordered a chelada in other parts, and the ingredients get switched up a good deal, but that's part of the easy charm of this cooler: there's no rigidity. In many recipes — and even a cursory search will turn up hundreds — the same suspects come up time and again: lime juice, salt, Worcestshire sauce, soy sauce, Tabasco or other hot sauce, powdered chilies, tomato juice, ice and beer (emphatically Mexican). There's so much right with this drink that it's hard to quibble with any of it. Even the most slapdash michelada is still worth drinking, specifically because the preparation covers up a host of shortcomings.

Given that wide margin of error, there are little tweaks you can improve on without getting all Anglo-Saxon geeky and ruining the thing. One of the great things the Mexicans know about that we don't is Maggi Seasoning, an extract of wheat gluten that tastes like soy sauce that's been wrung out of a grilled steak. They put it in almost everything, which is why almost everything they eat tastes great. Maggi is a key player in the better micheladas — just a few drops — and so procuring a bottle amps your game exponentially from mere soy sauce or Worcestershire. As much as people love Tabasco, I find the vinegar base of it jarring in this drink; better Cholula, Tapatìo or any of dozens of others, particularly if you can find the regular yellow-label Valentina salsa picante from Guadalajara.

An elegant option is to relegate the heat part of the drink to a bit of powdered chile piquìn, which is serious stuff, blended into the salt with which you rim the glass, so it creeps up as you sip. And though people are compelled to use only Mexican beers in it, really any light, cheap suds work just fine, and I've gone to pale ambers with great results as well. The operative, once again, is enhancement without worries; when it's 92 degrees and 92 percent humidity, who needs more incentives to sweat?

Use a pilsner or other tall beer or cocktail glass; a 20-ounce cooler or imperial pint works beautifully in that it allows for the ice, the additives and an entire 12-ounce bottle of beer. Cut a small lime wedge and use it to moisten the rim of the glass, then invert it onto a saucer of kosher salt, or salt mixed with chili powder. Fill the glass with as much or little ice as you wish. Then use whichever of the following ingredients fit your mood, pouring the beer in last. Do experiment with lavish versions compared to more stripped-down ones to see which you like best. Salud!

— Fresh lime juice, about an ounce, or one lime's worth. I like to save the squeezed half-hull to cap the drink, to incorporate the aromatics of the oil into it as well.
— Maggi Seasoning
— Salsa picante (bottled hot sauce)
— Worcestershire sauce
— Soy sauce
— 1-3 ounces tomato juice
— Beer, 12 ounces.

Monday, August 01, 2011

FW: Science Journal article of peculiar interest...

my friend John D. found this gem:

1. J Forensic Sci. 2009 Nov;54(6):1310-4. Epub 2009 Sep 8.
Blood and tissue spatter associated with chainsaw dismemberment.
Randall B.
Department of Pathology, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine,
Sioux Falls, SD 57103, USA.
In response to the unexpected paucity of blood/tissue spatter at the site where a
body of an adult woman was dismembered by an electric chainsaw, we dismembered
two large pig carcasses with a small electric chainsaw in a controlled
environment. These experiments demonstrated first that a large carcass could be
easily dismembered by a small electric chainsaw. When the chainsaw bar is held
parallel to the ground the majority of the blood and tissue is deposited directly
beneath the saw and bar and very little elsewhere. If the discharge chute of the
saw however is not oriented directly at the ground, larger amounts of blood and
tissue may be sprayed on lateral surfaces or deposited some distance from the
chainsaw. The characteristic striations created on the surface of wood as it is
cut by a chainsaw can also be found on bony surfaces cut by a chainsaw.
PMID: 19737342  [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


> we dismembered two large pig carcasses with a small electric chainsaw in a controlled environment

Yeah, sure. Anytime you put a guy, a pig carcass, and a chainsaw into a room, it's gonna be a "controlled environment."

I think this article will be cited in the "Techniques" section of the book, "So You Want To Be A Serial Killer?"



Saving ancient recordings

Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey, Archeophone Records: Helping us rethink popular music.
By Forrest Wickman Updated: Jul 26, 06:52 AM

As co-owners and operators of Illinois-based Archeophone Records, husband-and-wife team Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey are almost singlehandedly rescuing the music of America's earliest recording era from the brink of extinction. By pulling together lost phonograph cylinders and discs from private collections, record shows, and eBay auctions, restoring them, and digitizing them for affordable release, they are bringing to light a vital chapter of our musical heritage that might otherwise be forgotten. These recordings of the acoustic era include everything from the earliest performances by "Red Hot Mama" Sophie Tucker to the dirtiest ditties of the 1890s.

Take Lost Sounds, Archeophone's 2005 retrospective on the role of black Americans in the genesis of the recording industry. The collection's recordings reveal sounds unexpectedly familiar—a bit of the blues, and is that a rock song?—and an unvarnished portrait of the racism (manifest here in minstrelsy and "coon songs") that's not as ancient as we might like to think. Their 2009 Sophie Tucker anthology chronicles a vaudevillian diva that Slate music critic Jody Rosen called a sort of proto-Beyoncé, while a 2010 compilation of Negro spirituals suggests that maybe these so-called "sorrow songs" weren't so sorrowful after all (as there was no standard speed for playback, previous restorations may have been pitched too low).

How do Martin and Hennessey do it? For starters, by staying small. As Archeophone's only full-time employees, Martin and Hennessey handle song selection, research, audio restoration, art direction, distribution, website maintenance, and —as this reporter found out—press inquiries, all themselves. (For Hennessey, this is also in addition to her full-time job: She's the University of Illinois's manager of business Web services.)

The work can be difficult. The earliest recording off the Lost Sounds compilation, African-American phonograph star George W. Johnson's 1891 rendition of "The Whistling Coon," was found in shards in a box at a record sale. "Cylinder Doctor" Michael Khanchalian, a dentist by trade, restored it for Martin and Hennessey, piecing it together as if it were a pair of shattered dentures.

But the work pays off. Lost Sounds snagged a Grammy for best historical album, and Archeophone has gone on to rack up a total of nine Grammy nominations, including for best historical album in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Hennessey told me that when their win was announced on television—it was one of the results announced in the bumper before the commercial break—they were amused to see that their faces happened to appear between megastars Justin Timberlake and Shakira. We're fond of FutureSex/LoveSounds and "Hips Don't Lie," but in our book Martin and Hennessey are a pretty big deal, too.