Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"English is our language. No excetions"

Feedom doesn't come free

News reports on various Tea Party protests show a shockingly high incidence of poor spelling. I give extra points to those doltish nativists demanding an English-only jurisdiction via a marquee with comical errors. Pargon has collected a few illiterate examples in the rollicking Flicker set called Teabonics.

UPDATE April 5: Amercia!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chihuahua Despair, Akita Devotion

Linda Christian with her green-eyed Chihuahua, from frankphotos.

From the History of Science journal Endeavour comes the paper The nature of suicide: science and the self-destructive animal. It gives examples of reported animal suicide, including these from the 19th century:
  • A "a fine, handsome and valuable black dog of the Newfoundland species" that drowned itself in 1845.
  • A canvasback duck that drowned itself after its mate died.
  • A cat that hanged itself following the death of its litter.
  • A horse that jumped into a canal after years of mistreatment.
  • Dogs that starved themselves on the graves of their masters.
I contribute an anecdote I ran across recently regarding Linda Christian (pictured above): actress, wife of Tyrone Power, and curator of a turbulent personal life:
"June 1964 her pet Chihuahua, jealous over the missing attention he receives over the bullfighters, jumps to his death from her terrace."
Poor grammar, I know, but you understand what the writer's getting at. Jilting a pet is bad enough, but with professional animal torturers?

[Lest this post about Linda Christian's chihuahua be considered just more of the currently fashionable Christian-bashing over "petty gossip," I must admit that the Chihuahua story verges on the sensational.]

On a more positive note, not all tales of the "human fails animal" genre end in suicide: some are uplifting. If you haven't heard of the loyal Hachikō (from which at least two feature films have been made including a recent one by Lasse Hallström), then you may want to read about the touching behavior of this extraordinary Akita.

For the record I prefer dopey but basically sensible larger dogs: herders; hounds; and retrievers, especially Labs. Hardly ever suicidal.

Thanks to Mind Hacks for pointing to the journal article which is informative and thoughtful, and which I am not attempting to do justice.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Beard of Honor

BYU Honor Code Office: What is the process for obtaining a beard exception?

What is that process? Well, to start, collegians-- non-discriminatorily, they do not specify male or female-- you must get a physician involved to sport a beard at BYU.

For those who aren't aware, Brigham Young University (BYU) is a large Mormon institution in Utah -- one of the most Republican states in the USA.

You know what's coming, right? This is a photograph of Mormon leader Brigham Young, after whom the University is named.

Brigham Young Image from Wikipedia.

Maybe Brigham couldn't wrangle the mustache rider to the beard exception.

By the way, Mr. Young had about 55 wives.

Thanks to drgrist

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Anti-White Bias

Boooring. Source: Today and Tomorrow.

COME ON PAINT ME WHITE AGAIN, an exchange between UK street artist mobstr and the Newcastle City Council. Click through for the images.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Soundtrack for the Universe

SadTrombone.com is a handy website to have up at nearly any given time. Today, the Republican congressional leadership should have it on an endless loop.

I think Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi are hearing a much happier tune.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Tune

I know nothing about this clip other than it's apparently a guitar player from Botswana named Ronnie using an idiosyncratic technique to play a joyous tune.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A new national anthem for Ireland!

Since it's St. Patrick's Day, and since I enjoy a song occasionally, here's a fine suggested anthem for Ireland.

A new national anthem for Ireland!: "Ireland, Ireland!

By ‘The Duckworth Lewis Method’
Ireland, Ireland, damp sod of earth
lost on the surf of the North Atlantic.
Ireland, Ireland, mountains and mist,
Vodka and chips, it’s so romantic."
Continued, and with audio of it sung with gusto, at the link. Not being Irish, I can't suss out what the censored word is.

One Movie I Won't Seek Out

Billy: The Early Years. A Billy Graham biopic directed by Robby Benson. Yes, that Robby Benson. Christianity Today says the screenplay "is full of extremely obvious and heavy-handed moments...."

I would have been disappointed if it weren't.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stealing the Show

The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926. Source: Wikipedia

With tools such as DRM and copy protection, the movie industry is waging an apparently losing battle against film pirates. How long has this fight been going on?

At least since the 1890s:
Film tinting: "The process [of tinting film] began in the 1890s, originally as a copy-guard against film pirates. The film was tinted amber, the color of the safelight on film printers. The discovery of bleaching methods by pirates soon put an end to this."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

True Indie Cinema

Preview of "The Family in Which I Live"

The film is based on a true story about the family of Hero Kim Kwang Chol, which works hard to repay the profound loving care and trust shown by General Secretary Kim Jong Il, always enshrining them.

Sun Hui, lead part of the film, becomes a daughter-in-law of the family of Hero Kim Kwang Chol as befitting the heroine who performed feats in the socialist construction site during her maidenhood. She displays sincerity as the wife of an officer and a mother for service persons on the frontline.

During these days she learns from the noble spirit of the Hero's parents and his brothers and the genuine family tradition. She creditably performs her duty like a cooker for the supreme command without expecting any honor.

-- Korea News Service

Photo-thing by Riffle. Explanation here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sarcastic Actions

David Letterman interviewed Julianna Margulies, who talked about her early years as a waitress. During the discussion, he said [in paraphrase]:
My friend George Miller would always leave a huge tip even when the service was terrible. I'd say: "The service was awful, why such a large tip?" George said: "I'm being sarcastic."
Made me laugh.

Also reminds me of the prefatory lines of the Rickie Lee Jones song Juke Box Fury:
Polly and I went to the circus
Polly got hit with a rolling pin.
We got even with the circus
We bought tickets but we didn't go in.
Non-verbal sarcasm is even harder to pull off than the usual kind, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Confirmatory Graph

What if Canadians synchronized their flushing -- say, by peeing en masse during play breaks in the most watched hockey game in Canadian history?

Edmonton water consumption would look something like the dark line in this graph:
The universe is in order, as Nick Park would acknowledge.

Via Matt Yglesias.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

'Pinocchio syndrome': a peculiar form of reflex epilepsy?

Reflex epilepsies can be defined as epilepsies in which all or a significant part of seizures can be regularly provoked by a given triggering factor, most often a sensory stimulus. Sometimes it may be unexpected, such as, reading or decision-making. We report an unusual epilepsy in which seizures occurred when the patient lied.


As in Collodi's tale, in which lies made Pinocchio's nose grow, our patient's lies became so obvious for his interlocutors. As he was a "eurocrat", using lies to evoke the truth in adversarial EEC negoations, it is thanks to carbamazepine [an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizer] that he has been able to work again.

--Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry: 1993
As unpleasant as it is for the real subject, this sounds like a comedic premise.

[The linked article is a fairly brief letter to the Journal, and it's not such a tough read.]

Feel-Good Story

AP News: No harm in naked woman tied to tree in Tacoma park
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) -- Several police officers responded to a 911 report of a naked woman tied to a tree in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma.

Spokesman Mark Fulghum (FUL'-jum) told The News Tribune officers talked with the woman and a man Tuesday in the Owen Beach area and determined it was a "consensual rendezvous."

No one was arrested.

That's the full AP story, but I'm sure that's not the full story.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Political Notes

  • Mickey Kaus is possibly going to run for Senate against Barbara Boxer. This engenders hilarity. It also gives me the chance to resuscitate the above graphic of Kaus compared to the Secretary of Education character in the movie Idiocracy. Kaus should put this on his campaign literature.
  • I'm surprised by the recent softening of Tory support in the UK. Electoral Calculus is currently predicting slightly less that a 50% likelihood of a Tory victory. [Electoral Calculus reminds me a bit of Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com here in the US--a site that statistically predicts election outcomes. Nate at FiveThirtyEight.com did statistics for baseball before starting his political site -- did Electoral Calculus start with cricket stats?]. I'm pulling for the Tories to lose, unlike some Obama hands (though I don't trust the Wall Street Journal, it is plausible some signed on with Cameron).
  • Evan Bayh was interviewed on Charlie Rose's show tonight. I watched for 10 seconds and thought: this is how the world will end, with one oleaginous tautology trying to out-vapid another; then the singularity.
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