Sticks and Stones

According to the CBC's Fifth Estate (Wednesday January 26, 2005), the United States is in the midst of a very un-civil war. It's a war of words that's pitting conservative against liberal, that's already divided the country into red and blue. The new gladiators are commentators like Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter and their forum is the television studios of networks like Fox. It's loud, it's raucous, but does it have anything to do with the truth?

 

Let's get real here.  These folks are nothing more than overpaid entertainers (I'd lump them in with idiots like Howard Stern).  

Commentators?  Laughable (Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter are neo-Conservative shills at best; Al Franken would vote for a squirrel if it ran on a Democratic ticket).

Fox News: Fair and balanced?  No Spin Zone? (In a bizarre alternate universe or space/time continuum, perhaps).

Mr. O'Reilly seems to take great glee in sticking it to Canada and Canadians -- however, I have never known him to get his facts straight.

See: The Real truth About Canada (December 11, 2003); The Price of Freedom (July 15, 2005)

There are but two of many, many examples of his arrogant and patronizing drivel-filled anti-Canadian "Talking Points" pieces he tries to pass off as truth.  Hey!  Whatever sells Carnival Cruise Line vacations and Maalox, eh Bill?

See also: Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly has lashed out at a CBC documentary featuring guests who were highly critical of his show.

Boo hoo!

 

Post Script: As a rule, I don't watch CBC Television News because of their liberal (and rabidly anti-Christian bias).


US Media Monitoring Sites

Both of these groups track and expose what they believe to be right wing media bias in the mainstream American press.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Media Matters

Both of these groups track and expose what they believe to be left wing media bias in the mainstream American press.

Media Research Center
Accuracy In Media

 

clock Posted Sun Jan 30th, 2005 - 6:38pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Useless Information

Here's a web site about stuff you never needed to know - but your life would be incomplete without.

Here you can read about Matchstick Men, Electric Pickles, and the ever ubiquitous plastic Pink Flamingos.

"Useless Information" stories by category.

 

 

clock Posted Fri Jan 28th, 2005 - 7:06pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Another World Turns

article by Alisa Solomon | Posted January 27, 2005 at the Nation

 

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Little surprise that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva used his address during the first session of the World Social Forum on Thursday morning to emphasize his foreign-policy achievements. Even among an adoring crowd packing a sports stadium in Porto Alegre, he was unlikely to dwell too much on the campaign promises to lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty that swept him into office two years ago but have been impossible to fulfill in such a short time.

If Lula was urging patience for his domestic efforts from his critics to the left--who decry his allocating more to foreign debt payment than to social programs--his boasts of stronger relations with the rest of Latin America and with Africa spoke directly to those in the audience of 11,000 visiting Brazil for the six-day bazaar of workshops, debates, panels, performances and parties that take shape under the slogan "Another world is possible." Now in its fifth edition, the WSF builds its program through an open process: Anyone can sign up to convene a session. There are more than 2,000 this year, among them: "Cooperativism as a Tool of Change," "Citizen Debt Audit," "Experiences of Non-Violent Resistance in Palestine, Israel, Colombia," "Slow Food," and "Art Solidarity." ...

 

Read the rest here.

 

clock Posted Thu Jan 27th, 2005 - 11:56pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Urban Legends

This is a true story...

A friend of a friend and his daughter were driving along a lonely country road at night and happened upon a female hitchhiker. The woman asked for a ride to her home just a few miles up the road. The travelers obliged and continued on with the woman riding silently in the backseat. As they approached their destination, the driver turned to inform the passenger they were arriving, only to discover she had vanished from the backseat without a trace! Thoroughly spooked, the travelers inquired at the house and learned that a woman matching the description of the hitchhiker had indeed once lived there, but died several years earlier in an automobile accident. Her ghost, they were told, was sometimes seen wandering beside the highway...

It's not really a true story, but it's a familiar one to people all over the world. There are as many versions as there are tellers of the tale, each prefaced with the claim that it really, truly happened. That is to say, it's a classic urban legend.

It's also the centerpiece of The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings (1989), Jan Harold Brunvand's first book popularizing contemporary folklore. Though it preceded many fine sequels, "Hitchhiker" remains the single best introduction to the topic available for serious students and general readers alike.

Many of the best-known stories are here, rendered in all their variants, debunked, and plumbed for deeper meaning: "Alligators in the Sewers," "The Baby-sitter and the Man Upstairs," "The Spider in the Hairdo," "Kentucky Fried Rat," and more. Brunvand approaches the subject matter as a serious scholar, but recognizes and gives emphasis to the entertainment value of each of the tales themselves. The book offers chuckles and chills alongside thought-provoking commentary.

Most importantly, Brunvand demonstrates how urban legends fit into a vast continuum of oral tradition/storytelling extending back through the ages. The stories may be thoroughly modern in their particulars, but they transcend and dramatize timeless facets of human nature: our wishes, foibles, and fears. To understand the origins and meaning of living folklore is to better understand ourselves and the cultures in which we live.  This book remains on my shelf as a fun reference since I first read it in 1991.

The Internet is but the latest (and a most effective) tool in the spread of Urban Legends. I've relied on sites like snopes.com (which has been around for nearly ten years - a lifetime in cyberspace!) to debunk e-mail rumors and otherwise separate fact from fiction.

 

I found the following and other great true stories at the Museum of Hoaxes.

The 1933 Theft of the Sacred Cod

Theft is one of the classic and most-often-used tools in the toolbox of college pranksters. All manner of prized items are regularly spirited away at campuses throughout the world: statues, bells, trophies, road signs, etc. But precisely because theft is such an obvious form of pranksterism, it has an extra hurdle to overcome in order to rise to the level of greatness. It must display an extra measure of creativity in order to stand out from the crowd. This can be achieved in two ways: either through the ingenuity of the method of theft; or, as in the case of the Sacred Cod of Massachusetts, through the novelty of the object stolen.

The "Sacred Cod" of Massachusetts (that's really what it's called) is a five-foot long codfish carved out of pine that hangs suspended above the entrance to the chamber of the House of Representatives in the Massachusetts State House. A wooden codfish has hung there ever since the eighteenth century, as a symbol of the importance of the cod to the early economy of the region. The head of the cod points at whichever party is currently in power... 

read the rest here

clock Posted Wed Jan 26th, 2005 - 11:54pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Hairstyles of the Damned

Here's the thing: I never was much into punk music in its hey-day and thought that anyone who embraced either the lifestyle or the music were pretty much wanna-be losers. Sounds harsh perhaps, but where I grew up in relatively affluent suburban Montreal, we were a far cry from either the Lower East-Side of NYC (where the Ramones did their early thing), or South London (where punk music thrived and became the uniform genre of the disenfranchised post teen nouveaux-proletariat).  Punk music for us was little more than the driving pre-speed metal, mono-rhythmic anthems of bored WASP kids with money and energy to burn. Our folks had long gotten used to long hair, but blue spiked hair, dog collars, and safety pin eyebrow piercings were excellent shock material. My memory of 1976 was watching the so-called nerds of our high school graduation class transform themselves into sad facsimiles of Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

While doing the Christian Rock Band thing in the late 70's with Dawntreader, our bass player (who was an ex-pat Brit) was heavily influenced by Punk, and we performed one or two Punk Christian tunes he penned.  Great bass player; questionable songwriter.  To be honest, I can't remember a single note or lyric.

I went to see the Ramones perform in 1984, and liked the show  -- but not enough to say, umm...  buy an album.

I've been vaguely aware that Punk has continued to develop new followings, and have had a chuckle or two over the "anniversary" (then and now) interviews with Punk's royalty.  I'm thinking that Punk's musical life will be complete when we finally hear a Kenny-G version of "I Wanna Be Sedated" over supermarket muzak systems.

Check out this great NPR audio review of Joe Meno's 'Hairstyles of the Damned'.  Here's an excerpt (be aware that the language can be a bit rough):

Hairstyles is an autobiographical tale about growing up in the '90s on Chicago's South Side. The main character, Brian, attends Catholic school and pines after his best friend Gretchen, a punk-loving brawler who "the rest of the world considered fat." The music they listen to -- by the Misfits, Ramones, Black Flag -- provides the soundtrack for their struggles.

Meno's first novel, How the Hula Girl Sings, was published by St. Martin's Press. Hairstyles of the Damned started off at a significantly less well known publisher with only 4,000 copies to start. Meno has some choice words for "conservative" publishers such as Judith Regan, warning against the reluctance to publish riskier material. Hairstyles, despite its small initial printing, still gained a following among readers who know something about feeling like an outcast and finding solace in punk music.

 

clock Posted Tue Jan 25th, 2005 - 7:30pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Pentagon Rejected Gay Sex Weapon

New Scientist Print Edition, 15 January 2005

THE Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.

Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behavior among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says.

Other ideas included chemical weapons that attract swarms of enraged wasps or angry rats to troop positions, making them uninhabitable. Another was to develop a chemical that caused "severe and lasting halitosis", making it easy to identify guerrillas trying to blend in with civilians. There was also the idea of making troops' skin unbearably sensitive to sunlight.

The proposals, from the US Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, date from 1994. The lab sought Pentagon funding for research into what it called "harassing, annoying and 'bad guy'-identifying chemicals". The plans have been posted online by the Sunshine Project, an organization that exposes research into chemical and biological weapons.

Spokesman Edward Hammond says it was not known if the proposed $7.5 million, six-year research plan was ever pursued.

From issue 2482 of New Scientist magazine, 15 January 2005, page 4

See also: Air Force Proposed Gay Sex Weapon

 

clock Posted Mon Jan 24th, 2005 - 8:47pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Foreign Policy Bullies

I am guardedly optimistic now that Canada will soon be receiving the credentials of a newly appointed American Ambassador. Giddy alliteration aside, I doubt that Paul Cellucci will ever be remembered fondly in Ottawa.  However, I am certain that his boss will give him a great big pat on the back for a job-well-done -- keeping Canadians reminded of our place in the world.  This is apparently that we must blindly follow behind -- or well out of the way of -- the current U.S. administration's path. 

Without a doubt Cellucci's remarks to Canadian leaders have often been inflammatory and idiotic.  Yet, who but Canadians could turn the other cheek, and show such restraint or even tolerance after such notoriously patronizing speeches as those given by Cellucci following the Chrétien government's decision to forego support of the U.S. war for control of Iraqi oil?  The fires of righteous indignation and moral outrage have been fanned to raging inferno by  neo-conservative talk-radio cranks ever since -- shock jocks who still continue to paint all Canadians as traitors to George Bush's causes (those of the so-called "Right", while the funeral pyres of trust and decency burn).

Bush was afforded an incredible opportunity to restore good faith between our countries by finally making a state visit to Canada in December. Almost without warning, he suddenly appeared to want to head out to Atlantic Canada to (decently) thank folks for their incredible response to American travelers who were caught outside the U.S. on 9/11 (albeit, 3 years after the fact).  Problem was that he chose to go to Halifax NS, instead of Gander NL, where the real bulk of aid and compassion took place. Once in Halifax, he departed from his script of gratitude, and instead admonished Canadians for their lack of support in the "global war on terruh" -- and particularly for not expressing mindless support of the U.S.'s plan for a so-called North American Missile Shield.   Man, did he ever screw all THAT up.  Made Cellucci seem like a mere bully pretender wanna-be.

I'm a proud Canadian, but also (in the typically Canadian way) I am painfully polite.  I would have said to Mr. Bush "Please go back home until you learn some manners, and, if you don't mind, do take that Mr. Cellucci with you".

Now we're hearing a story about just how much of a sandbox bully Bush was while here last month:

Bush tried to bully Canada on missile defence
Globe and Mail Update Jan 23, 2005

U.S. President George W. Bush tried to bully Canadian officials on missile defence during his visit last month by linking Canada's participation to future protection from the U.S., the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The newspaper quoted an unidentified Canadian official who was in the room as saying Mr. Bush waved off their attempts to explain how contentious the issue is for Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government. “[Bush] leaned across the table and said: ‘I'm not taking this position, but some future president is going to say, Why are we paying to defend Canada?' ” the official was quoted as saying. “Most of our side was trying to explain the politics, how it was difficult to do,” he said. But Mr. Bush “waved his hands and remarked: ‘I don't understand this. Are you saying that if you got up and said this is necessary for the defence of Canada, it wouldn't be accepted?' ”

The White House refused comment on the surprisingly pointed remarks. “I'm not going to comment on an unnamed source in a newspaper,” spokesman Ken Lisaius said Sunday. “The President has been quite clear about the strong relationship with Canada.”

Mr. Martin has told reporters that Mr. Bush's position at the meeting was one of incredulity that anyone would oppose the system, aimed at knocking out supersonic missiles launched by terrorists or rogue states. But the Post report suggests the meeting was far more tense than that.

U.S. diplomats had assured their Canadian counterparts that the prickly issue wouldn't be raised during Mr. Bush's visit. But it came up at the private meeting with Mr. Martin and the president unexpectedly raised it during a major foreign policy speech in Halifax the next day.

Paul Cellucci, America's ambassador to Canada, said earlier this month that the U.S. is optimistic Canada will sign on to the missile defence plan before the end of March. The system will rely on interceptors based in underground silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Pentagon officials blamed an unsuccessful test launch last month on a “minor glitch” in computer software. They say they may never publicly declare when the shield is fully ready.

clock Posted Sun Jan 23rd, 2005 - 10:00pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Dancing the War Away

Op-Ed by BOB HERBERT   |  Published NYT: January 21, 2005

Watching the inaugural ceremonies yesterday reminded me of the scenes near the end of "The Godfather" in which a solemn occasion (a baptism in the movie) is interspersed with a series of spectacularly violent murders.

Even as President Bush was taking the oath of office and delivering his Inaugural Address beneath the clear, cold skies of Washington, the news wires were churning out stories about the tragic mayhem in Iraq. There is no end in sight to the carnage, which was unleashed nearly two years ago by President Bush's decision to launch this wholly unnecessary war, one of the worst presidential decisions in American history.

Incredibly, with more than 1,360 American troops dead and more than 10,000 wounded, and with scores of thousands of Iraqis dead and wounded, the president never once mentioned the word Iraq in his Inaugural Address. He avoided all but the most general references to the war. Lyndon Johnson used to agonize over the war that unraveled his presidency. Mr. Bush, riding the crest of his re-election wave, seems not to be similarly bothered.

In January 1945, with World War II still raging, Franklin Roosevelt insisted on a low-key inauguration. Already gravely ill, he began his address by saying, "Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, my friends, you will understand and, I believe, agree with my wish that the form of this inauguration be simple and its words brief."

Times have changed. President Bush and his equally tone-deaf supporters spent the past few days partying hard while Americans, Iraqis and others continued to suffer and die in the Iraq conflagration. Nothing was too good for the princes and princesses of the new American plutocracy. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on fireworks, cocktail receptions, gala dinners and sumptuous balls.

Read the rest here

 

clock Posted Fri Jan 21th, 2005 - 5:46pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Translating the Untranslatable

I should start off by clearly stating that despite what I might post from time to time, I'm not opposed to U.S. President Bush. However, also know that I don't exactly support him either. Fact is that I can't vote for him, being a NRA and all -- at least for the time being -- since no one really knows what's coming down the pike (see Global Vote and Expansionist Party of the USA).

All this to say that I caught part of Bush's Inaugural Speech earlier today on T.V..  Besides being dumbstruck by the unmitigated gall of spending $40 million  -- on what is essentially an over-the-top party to celebrate 4 more years of oppression wrought by the 51% of Americans who chose the lesser of two evils  -- I am at a loss to comprehend much of anything of what Bush said today. 

I heard no mention of Iraq, nor any suggestion of remorse for staying a course of foreign policy that makes the world seem a lot more dangerous, and increasingly like a not-so-nice place to live.  The only logical explanation -- in fact  the only explanation -- is that he was speaking another language which sounds like English, but clearly is not.  The words he spoke must have different meanings; but they are absolutely incomprehensible and untranslatable.

Later I came across the following on NPR:

 

Linguist Christopher J. Moore has made a career of searching out some of the world's most "untranslatable" expressions -- words from around the globe that defy an easy translation into English. Moore shares a few of his linguistic favorites from his new book In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World with Renee Montagne.

From In Other Words:Cover of 'In Other Words' by Christopher J. Moore

Arabic

taarradhin [tah-rah-deen] (noun)

Arabic has no word for "compromise" in the sense of reaching an arrangement via struggle and disagreement. But a much happier concept, taarradhin, exists in Arabic. It implies a happy solution for everyone, an "I win, you win." It's a way of resolving a problem without anyone losing face.

Chinese

guanxi (Mandarin) [gwan-shee] (noun)

This is one of the essential ways of getting things done in traditional Chinese society. To build up good guanxi, you do things for people such as give them gifts, take them to dinner, or grant favors. Conversely, you can also "use up" your guanxi with someone by calling in favors owed. Once a favor is done, an unspoken obligation exists. Maybe because of this, people often try to refuse gifts, because, sooner or later, they may have to repay the debt. However the bond of guanxi is rarely acquitted, because once the relationship exists, it sets up an endless process that can last a lifetime.

 

See and hear more on NPR.com

 

clock Posted Thu Jan 20th, 2005 - 11:37pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Potato Stuffed with EVIL

A spud on the dark side. That's how toy maker Hasbro Inc. is promoting its latest Mr. Potato Head figure, Darth Tater.

The toy spud will be available next month, ahead of the May release of "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," the latest installment in that film series.

Darth Tater will come with a light saber, cape and helmet, in addition to the regular Mr. Potato Head accessories such as eyes, mouth and nose.

The New England-based toy maker says children will be able to "have all kinds of mix n' match, Mr. Potato Head fun with this wacky spud dressed as the infamous 'Star Wars' villain, Darth Vader."

"Star Wars: Episode III," starring Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, will open in theaters across North America on May 19.

 

See also: the Tasty Fries Vending Machine

 

Canadian Aid

"Thank God for Canadian aid"
By Paul Harris | Published on yellowtimes.org -- Saturday, 01/15/05

On December 26, 2004, the ocean floor off the northwest tip of Sumatra opened up in a borborygmic upheaval. This was no minor belch, but a massive quake that registered 9.0 on the Richter scale. Upwards of 150,000 people died in the tsunami that followed.

We all know that. We all know as well that there has been a tremendous outpouring of assistance from people worldwide — individual citizens have sprung to the challenge and massive fund-raising and relief efforts have been ongoing almost since the first news. In some countries, the outpouring of concern and help from citizens was to the point of embarrassing governments into doing likewise.

Help is now getting through, although there are logistical nightmares that will make this a long clean-up.

But I am not feeling charitable toward my government. The response of Canada, not Canadians but Canada, was pathetic. We have a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that managed to spring into action about two weeks after the disaster; we have a program of financial aid that requires the recipient to purchase the bulk of aid supplies directly from Canada, without regard to their emergency needs; our Prime Minister was able, thankfully, to finish his vacation and then offered the lame remark that he was coordinating everything while he was abroad.

Coordinating what? What exactly did Canada do to provide the immediate help needed? I’m willing to be educated on this because I’m damned if I can see that we did anything short of mouthing a few platitudes...

Rest of article is here

 

clock Posted Tue Jan 18th, 2005 - 11:45pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

File Under "That's Attractive!"

100-pound woman downs six-pound burger

Article posted January 14, 2005 © New York Times

CLEARFIELD, Pa. --A 100-pound female college student is the first to meet the Denny's Beer Barrel Pub challenge: down the restaurant's six-pound hamburger -- and five pounds of fixins' -- within three hours.

Kate Stelnick, 19, of Princeton, N.J., made the five-hour drive with two friends from The College of New Jersey on Wednesday, after they saw pictures of the monster burger, dubbed the Ye Old 96er, on the Internet and on TV's Food Network.

"I just saw it on TV and I really thought I could do it," Stelnick said, after downing the burger in two hours, 54 minutes.

Stelnick didn't eat for two days to prepare for the challenge. "I felt very full, but I was too excited that I actually ate it to notice," Stelnick said.

Denny Leigey Jr., the owner of the bar 35 miles northwest of State College, had offered a two-pound burger for years and conceived of the six-pounder after his daughter went to college and phoned him about a bar that sold a four-pounder.

But nobody had finished the big burger in the three-hour time limit since it was introduced on Super Bowl Sunday 1998 -- not even competitive eater Eric "Badlands" Booker. The 420-pound Booker -- who has eaten such things as 49 glazed doughnuts in eight minutes and two pounds of chocolate bars in six minutes -- tried three times to eat the burger and finally did on his third effort. But it took Booker 7 1/2 hours.

The burger takes 45 minutes to cook, and those who try to meet the three-hour limit must use no utensils and eat all of these fixins: one large onion, two whole tomatoes, one half head of lettuce, 1 1/4 pounds of cheese, top and bottom buns, and a cup each of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, banana peppers and some pickles.

Leigey said he was pretty sure somebody would meet his burger challenge, though he didn't have a petite woman in mind.

"I wouldn't have made it if I didn't think it was possible," Leigey said.

For her trouble, Stelnick got a special certificate, a T-shirt and other prizes and -- as advertised -- Leigey picked up the $23.95 tab for the burger.

See: this and also this
 
Snopes.com has photos
 
Read the fascinating account of Scott who tried the challenge, but couldn't finish -- at Concrete (jungle) Safari.  So sad...

 

clock Posted Mon Jan 17th, 2005 - 4:35pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

The History of Plumbing in America

Came across this today while doing a search on 17th C. Puritan bathing (don't ask).  We white Anglo-Saxon Canadians of British descent all know and admire John Crapper, the inventor  (see correction) of the modern toilet.  Yet I knew little about the History of Plumbing in America!  Here's an excerpt:

Closet Lore

Over 2,800 years ago, the fabled King Minos of Crete owned the world's first flushing water closet, complete with a wooden seat. Lost for centuries in the rubble of the palace ruins, the invention did not materialize again until 1594. Then, Sir John Harington built a "privie in perfection" for his godmother, Queen Elizabeth, to use in Richmond Palace, and one for himself at his humbler estate. Once he published his pompous book of terrible puns and off-color jokes about the new device in 1596, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax, the ridicule and scorn would hound him for the rest of his days, and he never built another one. ("Ajax" was the slang in those days for a privy or "a jakes.") To the world's misfortune, another 200 years would pass before the idea took hold again.

Thus, when the colonists packed for the New World, they probably tucked a chamber pot in among other crockery items and tinware. But to a backwoodsman or a bride of 14, the term "chaise percee" or "commode" often disguised its use. In the early 1800s, a settler's wife reportedly bought several from the new stock at the local store for kitchen and table use.

The privy or outhouse slowly became accepted, albeit a peril for those walking by. One diarist disgustedly wrote: "Privy houses set against ye Strete which spoiling people's apparill should they happen to be nare when ye filth comes out É Especially in ye Night when people cannot see to shun them."

From the more humble and ramshackle outhouses of wood emanated more glorious structures. Human nature as it is, some became symbols of distinction as would current bathrooms of the well-to-do. William Byrd's 1730 outhouse was made of brick and had five holes. Byrd was chief magistrate of the colonial court and thus sat on the largest seat at the center of a raised, semicircular bench. So did Mr. Byrd preside in the family privy.

Dozens of years later a two-story model was built and still stands in Crested Butte, Colo. The upper level was used when heavy snow blocked the first floor. A more typical, single-hole outhouse is found in a replica located in Old Sturbridge, Mass.

How to bring a workable water closet into the house without mess or odor was an invention waiting to be born, however. Some of the country's leading citizens would try to improvise on the basic knowledge of the times.

Check out the rest of this article from Plumbing and Mechanical Magazine, 1987 -- posted here.

Correction (Jan 27): Thomas Crapper was a real person, who operated a plumbing business in 19th century London, but he didn’t invent the flush toilet. This is credited, instead, to Joseph Adamson, who took out the first patent for a flush toilet in 1853. A 1969 book by Wallace Reyburn, Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper, has helped to propagate the myth that Crapper was the inventor of the toilet. Reyburn’s biography of Crapper is simply a fabrication.

If you are curious about the word "crap", see this at World Wide Words.

 

clock Posted Fri Jan 14th, 2005 - 5:23pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Anglican Fundamentalists?  No.

Reprinted from VirtueOnline Viewpoint - January 11, 2005

Fundamentalism. It is the dark and ugly side of the Christian Faith that keeps many of us awake at night wondering if perhaps we are too judgmental with our colleagues, not inclusive enough, legalistic, singularly arcane in not being hip with the latest in diversity trends or hearing, yet again, those awful words "so and so is homophobic."

It rattles almost every thoughtful orthodox Christian I know. The newspapers are full of talk about Islamic fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists and making linkages sometimes where there are none. The President of the U.S. has been called fundamentalist in the same breath with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for positions they hold on morality and much more.

It is used as a slur word against people who hold literal positions on such matters as the interpretation of Holy Scripture, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, biblical behavior regarding sexuality and much more.

Calling a person a fundamentalist is a powerful smear word, even and especially when it is not true. But when it is used, it can cower a person into submission, destroy arguments instantly, and when it is used in an ad hominum fashion make people of faith feel that not to be nice or inclusive is to be less than Christian. It is the great silencer.

In the old days a fundamentalist was one who didn't drink (alcohol), swear or go to the movies. Now all that has changed. With television most fundamentalists have seen things they would never have (self righteously) seen in a movie theatre. The issues then were primarily cultural now they have moved to deeper issues of faith.

In the Episcopal Church the word is used by liberals and revisionists at anyone who does not agree with them on pansexuality, women's ordination and various doctrines that have become over time, unpalatable.

Jack Spong uses it to describe and slam evangelicals, especially the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. George Carey, while Affirming Catholics like Rowan Williams and Frank Griswold talk about their movement as one which counters "biblical fundamentalism" in the Anglican Communion by pushing biblical feminism, inclusive sexuality and much more. In their official position statement they say they "seek to provide a crucial antidote to the rising tide of biblical fundamentalism that, in many parts of the Anglican Communion, is weakening the historic Anglican commitment to a balanced theology."

In truth, in the Anglican Communion there are no fundamentalists; what and who liberals and revisionists are referring too are Evangelicals, quite a different matter altogether. John R. W. Stott, England's leading Evangelical Anglican of the last century used to call fundamentalists "wooden literalists" and he spent most of his life countering fundamentalism. In a commentary piece on Fundamentalism I have examined this phenomenon at length and in depth. Please feel free to float this story around, especially to Episcopalians who are under siege. I hope it offers some help and relief in these troublous times.

 

clock Posted Wed Jan 12th, 2005 - 11:19am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Light on, Little Guy!

I've seen the the future, and it is illuminated by L.E.D.s!
 
 
LED inventor gives green light to settlement
Little guy gets victory
By Nick Farrell: Tuesday 11 January 2005, 07:58 @ the Enquirer

THE Japanese inventor of LED lights has settled out of court with his former employer Nichia who paid him pennies for something that made them billions.

When Shuji Nakamura, now a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, invented the LED, Nichia gave him a token bonus. Now, years later, he wants a bid more cash from his invention.

Last year, Nakamura won a landmark case, in which the Tokyo District Court ordered Nichia to pay him 20 billion yen ($A253.47 million). The company argued his work was a team effort, and that Nakamura's invention was possible only because of support from the company and other workers.

The settlement is only $8 million, which is not to be sniffed at, but is much less than the courts had ordered. Still, Nakamura has become a bit of a hero in Japan for taking on the big employers and winning. He has been writing books, doing the lecture circuit and even appearing in a TV clothing ad.

 

clock Posted Wed Jan 12th, 2005 - 1:59am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

A Three-Word Story

Check this out.

 

clock Posted Tue Jan 11th, 2005 - 8:52am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Return of the Super Swede

It's very good news that the 60's and 70's Swedish darlings of rock and roll -- Hagstrom Guitars -- are back in production again! 

"Hagstrom guitars are highly revered for their quality, design, and most notably their fast playing necks. Such was the popularity of the instruments in their heyday that Hagstrom estimated 800,000 musicians had played their guitars including Elvis Presley, Frank Zappa, and the Beatles."

I had pretty much forgotten about these guitars, and was intrigued when a friend (who works for the Canadian distributor) mentioned that new axes were due out in December.  He's seen them at the last NAMM show, and boy was he excited!  Can't wait to play one myself!

A quick Google brings up many "official fan sites" for these guitars!  Quite amazing the following these have!

Hagstrom UK

Hagstrom USA

Hagstrom Canada

Now, if only someone would start building Daion's again! 

Hmm... will have to stick that idea on the fridge!

 

clock Posted Mon Jan 10th, 2005 - 6:27pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Monkey Writes

They write nonsense and deem themselves artists. - Umberto Eco

from "Foucault's Pendulum"

 

< insert clever and insightful paragraph about web logging here >

 

Ta dah!

 

clock Posted Sun Jan 9th, 2005 - 11:04pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Calling for an End to Opposite Day

Published on Friday, Jan 7, 2005 on CommonDreams.org by Dawn Baldwin

We're entering year five of opposite day in America.

You know the drill: More mercury emissions means cleaner water. More sulfur and carbon dioxide in the air means clearer skies. Cutting old growth trees means creating healthier forests. Less money for expensive education programs means better education for every child. Abolishing initiatives for equal pay and restricting reproductive freedom is pro-family. Waging pre- emptive war is defending the "culture of life." Imprisoning suspects indefinitely without due process is protecting our democracy. Being pro-war, pro-gun, and pro-death penalty is being not only Christian, but pro-life.

Making the same assertions over and over again, regardless of empirical evidence, is praised as resolute leadership while pointing out the facts is scorned and dismissed as "reality-based thinking."  

>> More

 

clock Posted Sat Jan 8th, 2005 - 6:10pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Find the missing giraffe

If you stare at the picture long enough a giraffe will appear.

 

clock Posted Fri Jan 7th, 2005 - 7:02pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Humming for Hummers

Yay!  Just what the world needed: A new and larger Hummer for those willing to shell out the approx. US$ 107,000 - $117,000 necessary to have this grocery hauler parked in one's driveway!  And they call it the H1 Alpha!  (Who's a big scary human?)

Care to guess how many of these are actually driven off-road?

And if you you're living the the US, and didn't buy a luxury SUV for business use before President Bush signed the bill into law on Oct. 22, you're out of deduction luck. The new law throws a major roadblock in this tax loophole. Now to get the $100,000 write-off, the vehicle you purchase must weight more than 14,000 pounds. The deduction cap on Hummers and other gigantic sport utility vehicles that weigh a mere 6,000 pounds are capped at $25,000.  Yes kids -- last year folks could purchase a Hummer for the "small biz" and write off $100,000. 

Hmm-mmmm!!

 

clock Posted Fri Jan 7th, 2005 - 12:01pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Down and Out in Discount America

Article by Liza Featherstone - Posted December 16, 2004 at the Nation.

On the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year, Wal-Mart's many progressive critics--not to mention its business competitors--finally enjoyed a bit of schadenfreude when the retailer had to admit to "disappointing" sales. The problem was quickly revealed: Wal-Mart hadn't been discounting aggressively enough. Without low prices, Wal-Mart just isn't Wal-Mart.

That's not a mistake the big-box behemoth is likely to make again. Wal-Mart knows its customers, and it knows how badly they need the discounts. Like Wal-Mart's workers, its customers are overwhelmingly female, and struggling to make ends meet. Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the landmark sex-discrimination case against the company, points out that Wal-Mart takes out ads in her local paper the same day the community's poorest citizens collect their welfare checks. "They are promoting themselves to low-income people," she says. "That's who they lure. They don't lure the rich.... They understand the economy of America. They know the haves and have-nots. They don't put Wal-Mart in Piedmonts. They don't put Wal-Mart in those high-end parts of the community. They plant themselves right in the middle of Poorville."  

See the rest.

 

clock Posted Thu Jan 6th, 2005 - 12:01pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Snow Day!

Make a flake.

Time well wasted.

 

clock Posted Wed Jan 5th, 2005 - 12:00pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

'80s Arcade Games

'80s Arcade Games - Play Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Duck Hunt, Frogger, Moon Patrol, Pacman, Pong, Space Invaders, Star Castle and Tetris (no downloads required).

Enjoy some of these classic '80s games below - You'll need Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.0 or Netscape 6.0 or higher, together with the Macromedia Flash Plugin (I am told that at least 95% of people have this installed already). If you don't have this particular plugin installed already, you can download it here for free. Please give the games a moment to load. To download the games to play offline, visit the downloads page.

80's Arcade Games. Almost as good as 80's music (blech!).  Sites like this one are why I enjoy my visits to the dentist for root canal work.

 

clock Posted Wed Jan 5th, 2005 - 12:26am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Dave's Web of Lies

There is a lot of information available on the World Wide Web. Not all of it is as it seems. Everywhere you look there is out-of-date information, popular misconceptions, and even mistruths presented as fact.

How much of what you read can you trust?

There is a solution.

"Dave's Web of Lies employs a trained team of specialised researchers to trawl the world's information nets seeking out falsehoods. The fruits of their labours are presented to you here. We constantly update this site with the latest lies for you to consume, safe in the knowledge that what you read is not true."

clock Posted Tue Jan 4th, 2005 - 5:58pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Best Guitar in the Universe

If you have several thousand dollars to invest, and appreciate the skill it takes to build the best of instruments, check out the fine guitars from the very talented  Michael Greenfield of Montreal. 

Here's a pic of Michael with his Boreal G2 with fanned fret option.  An African blackwood and cedar G2 may be in my future!  The waiting list is currently near two years.

I am carefully saving up my pennies.

 

 

clock Posted Mon Jan 3rd, 2005 - 10:13pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Epiphany!

The Adoration of the Magi
CAJES, Eugenio (b. 1575, Madrid, d. 1634, Madrid)
 
1620s, oil on canvas, 183 x 186,5 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

 

clock Posted Sun Jan 2nd, 2005 - 9:23pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Happy New Year!

Auld Langs Syne

The song, "Auld Lang Syne," is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min'?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' Lang syne?
 
For auld Lang syne, my dear,
For auld Lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld Lang syne.
 
We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine.
We've wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin' auld Lang syne.
 
For auld Lang syne, my dear,
For auld Lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld Lang syne.
 
We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
From morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld Lang syne.
 
For auld Lang syne, my dear,
For auld Lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld Lang syne.
 
And ther's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld Lang syne.
 
For auld Lang syne, my dear,
For auld Lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld Lang syne.
 
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine;
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld Lang syne.
 

- Robert Burns, 1700's

 

clock Posted Sat Jan 1st, 2005 - 6:30pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page