Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Way to go, Media.
of course, then I see this and I'm just at a loss for words.
Harry Kalas calling the entire 9th inning.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So, looking through some old maps of Philadelphia (nerd subhobby 2,126), I noticed that the city used to have 2 islands in the middle of the Delaware between Spruce and Christian Streets.
From Planphilly (a/k/a the site I will spend the next few days devouring):
There was once an island right off Center City where Philadelphians went to bathe and frolic.huh. I wish they were still there. Obviously, the old shipping route was instrumental in keeping Philadelphia prosperous for another couple of decades. But still, it sounds like it was a blast. Except for those pirates I guess. Still, I bet everyone else at those hangings was enjoying themselves.
Rising in the middle of the river, Smith’s Island was about a block wide and extended a half-mile from Arch Street to a point below South Street. It was originally known as Windmill Island for an octagonal 1746 windmill at its northern end. In May 1800, three men were hanged on the island for piracy aboard the schooner Eliza, leading to fanciful stories that it was a haven for pirates.
By the late 19th century, the island was a summer resort. Steam ferries left the Walnut Street wharf every ten minutes, carrying day-trippers to visit baths on the island. “The island has long been used as a bathing-ground and pleasure-garden,” one author wrote in 1887, “mostly for the lower classes.” According to Jackson, Smith’s Island featured a bathhouse, restaurant, beer garden, live music and occasionally a hot air balloon ascension or tight-rope walker to entertain the crowds. Great old willow trees made it an inviting retreat from the summer heat. In 1838, a canal was cut through the island at Walnut Street to facilitate ferry traffic to Camden. In 1878, shipping interests began a campaign to remove the island altogether, calling it an impediment to larger vessels. The campaign succeeded in 1891, when the Federal government began a six-year project to remove the islands. No trace of them exists today.
I wonder what a scuba hunt of the area would yield. Other than getting chopped up by a propeller.
*I should know this, but is it S.C.U.B.A? SCUBA? I feel like it's a pretty established word, right? I mean, nobody spells it U.N.I.C.E.F., right?
EDIT: I just found some old newspaper articles about the island, including one bemoaning the fact that Smith Island would soon be but a "vague memory". Also, this compelling passage:
In the meantime the police force of the island, consisting of six men, aided by some of the city police, was sent to the wharf to clear the crowd off, which they signally failed to accomplish. They had hardly arrived on this side before a fight sprang up on the island and black-jacks were freely flourished in the air. The fight soon spread and the police at once returned to the park to quell the disturbance, and the harbor police tug “Stokley” was sent to their assistance. A charge was made upon the fighters and about a dozen of the ringleaders were arrested and placed in the cells upon the tug. After being allowed to perspire for a while in the cells, they were brought to this side and allowed to go free. Most of them left quietly, but one of them became very abusive and threatened to beat the officers. He was taken to the Central Station, where he gave the name of Michael O'Mealey, and his residence at 1227 Fitzgerald street. He was held for a hearing on the charge of being drunk and disorderly.okay, 10 posts in 2 days. I'm off to have a beer and watch the game. Go Phils.
Human gaits, for example, can provide a lot of information about people’s intentions. At the American Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, a team of gait analysts and psychologists led by Frank Morelli study video, much of it conveniently posted on the internet by insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. They use special object-recognition software to lock onto particular features of a video recording (a person’s knees or elbow joints, for example) and follow them around. Correlating those movements with consequences, such as the throwing of a bomb, allows them to develop computer models that link posture and consequence reasonably reliably. The system can, for example, pick out a person in a crowd who is carrying a concealed package with the weight of a large explosives belt. According to Mr Morelli, the army plans to deploy the system at military checkpoints, on vehicles and at embassy perimeters.
...Another programme run by the Human Factors Division, Future Attributable Screening Technology, or FAST, is being developed as a complement to Project Hostile Intent. An array of sensors, at a distance of a couple of metres, measures skin temperature, blood-flow patterns, perspiration, and heart and breathing rates. In a series of tests, including a demonstration last month with 140 role-playing volunteers, the system detected about 80% of those who had been asked to try to deceive it by being hostile or trying to smuggle a weapon through it.
A number of “innocents”, though, were snagged too. The trial’s organisers are unwilling to go into detail, and are now playing down the significance of the testing statistics. But FAST began just 16 months ago. Bob Burns, the project’s leader, says its accuracy will improve next year thanks to extra sensors that can detect eye movements and body odours, both of which can provide further clues to emotional states.
So essentially what I'm asking is, why do I need to carry my driver's license with me everywhere?
Now, it looks like they took the Obama logo* and tried to internet it up a bit. It's like they might as well just start advertising in lolspeak.
Is it possible that these designs came from the internet itself? Oh, man. It's gonna take me awhile to wrap my head around that one.
*As much as I like the Obama, this logo thing is creeping me out a bit. The very idea of branding political candidates (though I'm sure it isn't new by any stretch) just seems so ominous to me.
But then what the hell do I know.
Anyway, check out a look at Pepsi designs over the years. My favorite? The one that looks like motor oil:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I think that these people live on primarily through the viewing of these photographs. That despite not being a world leader or a millionaire or Matthew Brady, we get to look at these people more intimately than the celebrities of their era, since these images tend to capture so much more emotion than any portrait ever does.
Part of it might be that the era I tend to look at the most, from right around the invention of the camera up until the 30s, is such a different era than the one we live in. It's not just the "no TV or internet" crap, although that is a pretty large part of modern life. It's more the "no electric refrigeration" and "don't ask about the bathroom situation"-type stuff.
Part of it might be that that last, haunting scene from the Shining*, which remains one of my favorite scenes ever filmed.
Anyways, what I started this post intending to say is that the folks over at Wired have put up some vintage Halloween photos, which might well be the most terrifying images I have ever seen.
It's odd, because I'm sure these masks were about as scary as a Dora the Explora** mask would be to us. But that doesn't make it any less creepy. When I was a kid I found these clear plastic masks in my parents' loft. It's hard to describe them, but they were somewhat opaque and featureless other than light red lips and on the one a mustache (this, aptly enough, is the closest thing I could find). I guess they were leftover from a party or something, but they scared the living crap out of me***. These pictures have absolutely surpassed them as the creepiest masks of all time, as far as I'm concerned. It's pretty amazing, and I'd guess that the celebration of Halloween was stil fairly new to these people****, which makes it even crazier. Imagine just picking up a new holiday. And I don't mean your dumbass international talk-like-a-pirate day.
Anyway, go check these pictures out. They'll probably be the scariest thing you see this Halloween season.
(other than whatever lies ahead in this election season)
*Not of Nicholson frozen in the snow, which I think most people remember the ending to be, but of the photograph of Jack Torrance and everyone else trapped in the ethereal golden years of the Overlook Hotel. Despite that movie being a pretty piss-poor adaptation and having some serious plotting issues (I love that this scene was thrown into the movie with absolutely ZERO illumination of the awesome back story it depicts). I really shoulda just made this a different post. Maybe a live watching of the Shining. ugh.
**I know, I know. But it's supposed to rhyme, no?
*** Those masks remain my third greatest childhood fear, behind horseshoe crabs and the clown marionette that my parents brought back for me from Mexico
****There's great sites all over the place going into the origins, traditions, and histories of Halloween, but just to be easy go check out the wiki page. It's absolutely fascinating and will probably teach you a great deal. Go learning.
After seeing a picture over at Oobject, I am now totally mesmerized by the Stockholm Metro lines (birthplace of the Metro newspaper!). This is the coolest thing ever and I now have a weird desire to go see Sweden and its subway stations, wacky socialism, and ABBA museum. Anyone down?
Monday, October 27, 2008
SIR – I read your article on organ transplants with interest (“The gap between supply and demand”, October 11th). I am the father of a seven-year-old boy, Nicholas Green, who was shot and killed in an attempted robbery during a family vacation in Italy. My wife and I donated his organs and corneas to seven very sick Italians, four of them teenagers. We’ve watched them grow into men and women and, 14 years later, all seven are still alive. Having seen all this I cannot visualise any decision other than the one we made, though to us at the time those people were just statistics on a waiting list.
The main obstacle for most people, I suggest, is this: brain death is usually sudden death—a road accident, a stroke, violence—and people arrive at the hospital to find someone they love, who was in good health only a few hours earlier, now dead or dying. Many are too stunned to take it in, others are angry and looking to assign blame; relations between family members may be tense, almost all are confused about organ donation.
To make a major, irrevocable decision there and then in this highly emotional atmosphere, about something they have never thought about before, is just too much for many people. They say no and often regret it for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, of all the hundreds of donor families I have met, I can scarcely remember one who regretted the decision.
If this is correct, the solution is clear: just as with any other important decision, families should discuss the options in calm conditions, when death is still a distant concept. As the overwhelming majority of people in most countries say they would donate a family member’s organs if they were faced with the choice, I would expect donation rates to soar.
The article itself is also worth reading, but this letter really stuck out to me. Some years ago my father wrote a letter to the Inquirer saying much of the same, though from a first person standpoint. As a result, things like this always move me a little.
A new e-mail making the rounds among Jewish voters in Pennsylvania this week falsely alleged that Mr. Obama “taught members of Acorn to commit voter registration fraud,’’ and equated a vote for Senator Barack Obama with the “tragic mistake” of their Jewish ancestors, who “ignored the warning signs in the 1930’s and 1940’s.”Yeah... um, what?
I don't wanna come on here and whine every day about stuff like this, but that it's all happening in PA is just irritating. Fortunately, This Phillies thing has grabbed everyone's attention for a while now. Which is fantastic for me, since I don't have to keep thinking about the economy, soul-sucking job searching, or the damned election for a few more days.
I'll write a real update soon, I promise.
Friday, October 24, 2008
She now can't explain why she invented the story, Bryant said.
Todd also told police she believes she cut the backward "B'' onto her own cheek, but she didn't explain how or why, Bryant said.
The alleged Pittsburgh ATM beating of a John McCain supporter was revealed to be a hoax.
Turns out the "black guy" didn't do it.
future beatings unconfirmed at this point.
This is disgusting, and I'm happy her stupid plan didn't work and resulted in public disgrace, negative impact on the McCain campaign, and getting beat up. I'm also happy that Bloomfield's name is cleared.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The real story, though, is what comes up in the related articles column of the BBC page:
*only 2 results were about dogs that weren't really depressing looking. So I put in the positive ones.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
and yes, I'm painfully aware of how stupid this looks. But as a near-avid watcher of Battlestar Galactica remake, I will give this the benefit of the doubt until I see it. or at least until I see screen shots of how shoddy the production values are. I wish they'd keep the old uniforms, lizard molds, and spaceships*, but something tells me they're gonna have to mess with a good thing.
*I remember the transport ships from V looking uncannily like the old McDonald's McNugget styrofoam containers. So much so that I think I used to use one for that purpose for my action figures as a kid. Man, I should really keep stuff like that to myself.
PETA urges Ben & Jerry's to use human breastmilk
You thought I was gonna go with a got milk ad, didn't you? pfffff grow up.
Okay, listen. I've attacked soy milk in the past*, but I think I could probably stomach it when faced with this option.
*only in the case of using it with cereal. Which just happens to be 95% of my milk consumption.
Did this one already make the rounds? I haven't seen it, but then unless it's about some stupid movie or the presidential race, I haven't noticed anything since like May.
While I wouldn't call myself the world's biggest Alex Ross fan (though he has been the artist on two of my favorite graphic novels ever), I think this shirt is pretty sharp. No, I'm not going to buy one. I don't even own band shirts anymore, I'm sure as shit not going to get a politician shirt, let alone a comic book politician shirt. But yeah, pretty sharp. Sam Jackson seems to think so, anyway.
buy one here.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I know, that to look at me your mind wouldn't leap to the term "woodsman". No, no, it's okay. I'm not offended. So I'm not brawny, and so I can't track and kill deer armed only with a pair of boots and a match that's been sharpened at its butt end. I've come to accept that. After all, it's not like I've never tried.
Like I mentioned earlier, I spent countless hours in the woods growing up. I've walked it from end to end, when I emerged in a vaguely familiar neighborhood I was certain was long past walking distance. I swam in the streams and I've helped injured friends out of them and I've lit dozens of completely unsafe campfires there. I got in bb gun fights in them and later made frequent plans drinking copious amounts of newly available ice-filtered beer there. Many stupid ideas were born back there, though most I'd never repeat.
Except this one:
Once, when I was 12 or 13, my neighborhood friends and I found a foothold trap not far from where we usually entered the woods. An opossum had its left hind leg stuck in it. It was only a matter of time before it'd start gnawing on that last leg, and squeamish about the results, we managed to free it and watch it limp back into the brush.
I'd like to think it was out of some proprietary sense of maintenance that we released it. That as its most frequent visitors, we were obliged to remove the presence of complete strangers, especially ones with the effrontery to set a trap so close to our homes.
Hell, I'd like to think we did it because we thought we could save its life.
But in the end, I'm pretty sure that we just wanted that trap. So we worked in concord, and after several hours managed to free the captured marsupial without injury or contracting rabies or whatever.
If I had come across a trapped opossum the other day, I can tell you without any exaggeration that I would not just have left the sucker there to chew his foot off, I'd probably run out of the forest, making startled noises under my breath whilst occasionally looking over my shoulder to make sure it wasn't following me, clanking the little trap behind it like some ghastly accessory.
So I'm not used to the woods like I used to be. I'm okay with that. I'm sure if I tried to free a trapped opossum right now, I'd have typhus or rabies or even better, Chagas disease. The point is, you know I'd have to wear a cone around my neck because let's face it; That kind of stuff happens to guys like me.
But even after I'd contracted Lyme disease and then later another bout with it, I'd still go into the woods for hours at a time without repellent, and just as often without checking myself when I'd get back home.
So why is it now I can't walk around in these same woods for an hour without freaking out, running home, and bathing myself in fire to make sure none of the little bastards are hitching a ride on me...FOR MY BLOOD? Is it that I'm so petrified of having to through the whole thing again? Is it that I'm just more of a wuss and intensely freaked out by parasites? I don't know, but I gave myself a thorough check when I got home, and still found one just sinking his chops into y side a few hours later. Of course, this prompted a full-scale, breakdown-inducing tick check, which spanned one bath and several hours. These things sort of snowball.
Anyway, it was nice, to find myself back there the other day, even if only for an hour or two before the panic set in. I got to run along the immutable old deer paths**. I got to climb into the spring house, which the last time I saw, it still had the remnants of a floor. Now it's mostly rubble accompanying two walls and a chimney. I always thought it looked sort of haunted or cursed as a kid, when you could still make out a livable structure's shape. Maybe disgruntled bagmen, or axe-wielding maniacs could spring from it at any moment. I probably also assumed that as a stone structure, it would long outlast me.
Of course, now, you have to squint to make it out from the overgrown shrubs to even see the remains, and upon approaching it, I fear a family of rats emerging it far more than any human malevolence. Fortunately, neither was present. Anyway, I took some pictures while I was down there, thinking I'd have something a little more...reflective to write about them when I got back. Instead, you get this rambling and largely incoherent explanation of my posting a bunch of pictures of woods and overgrowth. Oh well, at least I did something with them.
I honestly have hundreds of great stories about these woods, but they're mine. and the people who were there. I don't know where most of them are right now, but I also don't want to betray anyone that passed out in a campfire, or accidentally almost blew their face off, or who fell down a hill and broke a large glass apparatus hidden in his jacket, showering him in foul-smelling water and shredding their arm to pieces with broken glass. They can tell you those stories, I'm just a tired and lazy man talking about the woods.
What I really want is to go down there after a good snow. When the leaves are gone and the only thing you can hear is the wind and the snow crunching beneath your feet. That, my friends, is one of my favorite feelings in the world.
Then I'll also be able to go into that Robert Frost poem. Which I'm sure has you thrilled at the prospect of.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
In related news, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a comic book.
Yes, I'll give you a moment to go back and read that. It's about voter fraud and co-authored with Palast (who seems to relish calling his partner only by his last name) and is available for download here. Don't get turned away at the ballot.
Bobbi and Garry Adair of Montgomeryville were on a down elevator last Sunday at the Westin in Center City - he in a Phillies shirt, she in a Donovan McNabb Eagles jersey - when the door opened.
In stepped Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (left) and her security guys. Palin wore a New York Rangers sweater with “Palin 08″ on the back.
Bobbi Adair greeted the veep candidate and asked what she was up to.
Going for a run, Palin replied.
“Not in that shirt you’re not,” Adair says she told her.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Michele Allen, 32, will spend the next month in jail after admitting to a wild drunken weekend dressed in this silly cow outfit, said Middletown, Ohio, authorities.
She had been hired to wear the outfit to advertise for a local "haunted trail" theme park.
While at work Saturday evening, Allen hit the sauce hard and then stumbled into the streets - blocking traffic and chasing kids, said Police Major Mark Hoffman.
Allen also urinated in a nearby yard during the drunken grazing, cops said.
"It's curious. When I think of Halloween or a haunted trail, I don't think of cows as being scary - although this one was," Hoffman said.
As cops hauled her away, the haunted trail's manager snatched the cow mask away from Allen, but officers let her keep the rest of the outfit.
"It appeared that's all she had on," Hoffman said.
Allen dried out in jail over the weekend - all the while wearing the cow costume.
Jail policy allows for inmates to wear prison garb in the clink, but only after a defendant's first court appearance.
Despite having two nights to sober up, Allen was in a foul mood Monday, yelling at jailers.
"She was challenging people to 'suck her udders,' " Hoffman said. "I'm not joking."
Again, from RCS .
I'm a thief, I know. But this was too good not to post. My apologies if this has already made the rounds.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
now listening: an entire album's worth of Beatles songs played backwards. I'm not sure I could tell you why if you asked.
*I'm sorry. I think I said earlier that I'd never use that term again.
See what I mean? Sure, my chances of ever seeing one of these things alive is virtually nil, and even if I did, my skull would be crushed by the enormous pressure of the depths long before it could ever reach me. Hell, even if I was down there and could manage to withstand the tons of ocean water on top of me, I still wouldn't be able to see anything**. Even with all of this, I'm still immensely frightened by these things***.
So, you can imagine my relief today when I read that the deepest ever filmed footage of seep sea wildlife today revealed creatures that, while still slimy and probably fanged, were "cute". That's Monty Priede from the University of Aberdeen's description, not mine. But, it's nice to see them darting around and eating shrimp, as opposed to, I dunno, my extremities. So more power to these guys. I hope they dominate the murky depths, kept in check only by the feared and mysterious giant squid.
wait a minute, what the hell are shrimp doing that deep?
*sea snakes and horseshoe crabs: my living nightmare.
**What makes you think I'd hold on to a light down there if I had one?
*** an, as with all things I'm immensely frightened of, I can't help but wonder how it would taste when properly cooked
Monday, October 06, 2008
Still waiting on McCain geritol.
In other weird Obama news, SW Virginia is getting treated to Ralph Stanley endorsement ads? The Inquirer reported yesterday that both tickets are spending the most money on TV ads in Pennsylvania. But they're not gonna throw us some Ralph Stanley? Does Carville need to remind Barack what lies between Philly and Pittsburgh? You know what, on second thought let's keep that alien-headed goon away from that campaign.
UPDATE: Here's the commercial.
Which has me wondering if this is merely stupid people that attended the movies this weekend, or worse, stupid parents.
Either way, this is pretty depressing news.
(fortunately, more people probably saw SNL this week than that terrible movie)