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Name Calling

22 Mar

I started this as a tweet, but the idea didn’t have the required room:

One day terms like lame, gay, retarded, etc., will be replaced with a new set of society’s perceived weaknesses and wickedness – eventually someone may be laggy, or a banker, just as they were once a beslubbering, fat-kidneyed, flax-wench.

Disappearing Act

22 Mar

Mercado de Sonora - from wikimedia:

Mercado de Sonora (Sonora Market) is a mercado público, or city-established traditional market, located just southeast of the historic center of Mexico City in the Colonia Merced Balbuena neighborhood. – wikipedia

There are situations, like children and the script to last night’s episode, which eventually leave your control to take on a life of their own, a life that can bring anxiety and heartbreak.

If only we lived in a world like Will Coffin’s, in which we could turn to magic for a solution – well, supposedly, the people who frequent Mercado de Sonora have just such an advantage.

Mercado de Senora - from flickr:

The two types of products, herbal medicines and magical/occult items, are not completely separate[…] The variety of medicinal plants sold is vast and include avocado leaves for inflammations, chiranthodendron for the heart, jacaranda flowers for the stomach and more. There is also dried rattlesnake, which is considered a medicine against cancer, dried skunk to “strengthen the blood,” and starfish. Plant items more strongly associated with magic and religion include crosses of ocote wood for good luck, chains of garlic to ward off evil and deer eyes to protect against the “evil eye.” – wikipedia

The herbs provide an interesting selection, and I’d be interested to see if there was any science behind some their usages, but none listed are quite what I’m shopping for.

The market sells occult items related to magic (white and black), pre-Hispanic religious and magical traditions, Santería, the cult of Santa Muerte, shamanism, and various others […] [i]tems for sale include amulets, horseshoes, candles in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors, with many of the colors have very specific functions, gold dust, black salt, powders of unknown ingredients, “water of Saint Ignatius” to ward off unwanted attention, aromatic lotions and soaps, many of which are related to love spells and more – wikipedia

No, still nothing to correct a nappy narrator; I suppose I’ll just have to stick to invoking the ancient rites of my people:

Welcome to Monday

21 Mar

Feeling a knot of tension in your stomach, brought on by the knowledge that you’re still standing on the welcome-mat of a long week ahead?

Worried about that outstanding item on your schedule? Annoyed by the chipper attitudes of your workmates?

Might I suggest the soothing visage of a chimp in a tux?

Chimp in a tux -

From the wikipedia article on the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens:

In 1893 a chimpanzee was purchased from another of Wombwell’s Travelling Menageries in London. The four-year old chimpanzee, Consul, was dressed in a smoking jacket and cap and puffed on a cob pipe; he frequently accompanied [zoo owner] James Jennison to business meetings.

I’m sure Consul must have been a master negotiator in the boardroom, but, as often happens, his heir had a more artistic bent – from the same article:

Consul proved to be exceptionally popular, and after his death on 24 November 1894, the Jennisons immediately obtained a replacement, Consul II, who played a violin while riding a tricycle around the gardens, later graduating to a bicycle.

Consul II


19 Mar

I don’t believe I’ve posted this image before, from a New York Times gallery, but I’ve been deriving a lot of inspiration from it in the last while.

I can’t recall where I originally came across it, but there’s a high chance it was somehow via Jim of Relic Radio.
Hindenburg in New York, 1936 or 1937 -

Enter The Night Parrot

19 Mar

Shane McInnes' Kakapo for

The Kakapo (Māori: kākāpō, meaning night parrot) […] also called owl parrot, is a species of large, flightless nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand. – wikipedia

I think these amazing birds have been in the news quite a bit lately, so I won’t spend too long running down their fascinating habits – what I did want to mention, however, was the interesting (to me, at least) fact that their most invasive predators are feral house cats, introduced by settling Europeans.

Kakapo found at

Pulp Rescue

18 Mar

Iron Man ArmourWho wouldn’t love to be able to send a besuited, and belligerent, Robert Downey Jr. into the heart of Japan’s crippled reactors to manhandle the unruly portions, and provide the flow of water necessary to reverse the current tragic trajectory?

We’re not there yet, but we may not be that far from it:

The next generation of this type of product won’t have hand-repulsors, or the ability to fly, but I’m sure the strength to carry another hundred pounds of shielding would, and will, be most welcome.

The Long View

17 Mar

Screenshot from
Speaking of the situation in Japan, I wanted to bring up an item I thought might be of interest to Collective Detective fans.

With official estimations of the threat from radiation across Japan changing rapidly and sometimes inconsistent, a number of real-time amateur radiation monitors have popped up online. A live geiger counter at updates a graph with data every 60 seconds, and a uStream channel broadcasting the digital display of another Tokyo geiger counter was drawing more than 14,000 viewers earlier today. – CNET

– and by “and sometimes inconsistent”, they mean “and sometimes possibly a lie”.

At the time this post is going up, I found the altTokyo page unreachable, but the uStream was available and displaying a cpm of 14.14 – from what I’ve read, a rating of 160 is something to panic over.

I find it fascinating, and disturbing, that average citizens have had to take this level of science into their own hands, for their own safety. Whatever the outcome in these next few days and weeks, the Japanese corporate and social structure is in for a long, intense, debate. Are the stoic calm of the people, and the possibly tragic results of trying to save political-face, two sides of the same coin?

Lurid Photography

16 Mar

I noticed an odd confluence of random items in my garage, so I thought I’d attempt a bit of a visual story in one frame.

Visual Story

The Thin Blue Period

14 Mar

Picasso en prison! from flickr -’ve little time for commentary, but I just stumbled across a fun fact regarding Pablo Picasso – from the wikipedia:

[Poet Guillaume] Apollinaire was arrested on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. Apollinaire pointed to his friend Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.

Why has no one created a failed-pilot for a television show revolving around famous painters, falsely accused of art-related crimes, who operate as underground vigilantes in an effort to clear themselves?

I can see it now:

“I’ll run a spatter analysis,” says Jackson Pollock, deploying CSI-style UV lights.

“Maybe it’s just me,” Claude Monet replies, putting on sunglasses, “but I get the impression that this is MURDER. Seriously – look at those colours. Atrocious.”

Having Kittens

12 Mar

African Black-Footed Cat

I don’t usually hold with Caturday traditions, but I ran across a new article on science rock-star Betsy Dresser, and her gene bank operations, which I thought was worth mentioning.

(The felines in this post’s photos are African Black-Footed cats, but are not of the litter discussed below.)

The latest rare wildcat kittens at a New Orleans conservation center were born from embryos frozen before Hurricane Katrina.

The two male African black-footed cats are among the world’s smallest felines. They’ll grow to about one-third the size of the average housecat.

What caught my eye was the combination of easy transportation/storage, and the fact that these mini-leopards are 1/3rd the size of most housecats.

Fact: people love things that are tiny.

Will the African Black-Footed Cat be the boutique pet of tomorrow? Is this the next step towards genetic engineering for the masses?

Scientists in Omaha, Neb., collected and froze the father’s sperm in 2003. At the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, it was combined in March 2005 with eggs from a black-footed cat in the center’s collection.

The embryos were kept frozen until December. On Dec. 7, the thawed embryo was implanted into a second female black-footed cat. The kittens, which don’t yet have names, were born Feb. 13.

Male African Black-Footed Cat sharpens his claws -