Saturday, April 18, 2009

Veg, Not Veg

Related: The full list of Colorado's banned license plate phrases, 2009

Take Me Out on a Stretcher - UPDATE

This season the West Michigan Whitecaps, a minor league baseball team, will be offering up major league cholesterol, carbohydrates and 4800 calories in an enormous 4 pound hamburger... enough to feed an adult for 3 days.

And the official scorer says it's a hit! The Whitecaps sold more than 100 mega sized burgers on opening night. The Fifth Third burger is made with five 1/3 pound patties and toppings on an 8-inch bun.

Photo: Rex Larsen / AP, March 24th.
Audio: NPR's Morning Edition, April 16th.

Hey, Paul Krugman

Jonathan Mann is an unemployed U.C. Berkeley grad who posts a song on YouTube every single day. It's a mixture of folk, happy pop, dirty rock and other stuff... mostly politics. Boston area followers (or Indie aficionados) will hear more than a passing resemblance to Jonathan Richman.

Many the songs are on topics requested by viewers like you! Please direct your request to

March 17, 2009

March 30, 2009

Jonathan Mann's website and YouTube channel.

Pig Flies; World Sees The Unthinkable

Not exactly a pig that flies, but this pig got some big air at the 2009 Royal Easter Show in Sydney, Australia.

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Roger Waters commented: "It's been done."

Battersea Power Station Chimney & Pig photographed in December 1976 for
Pink Floyd 'Animals' album

This Week in Teabagging

You take what life gives you... But this really was too easy.

Drug Companies Conflicts

Listen to two sides of the debate over whether close ties between doctors and drug companies compromise patient care. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and medical students at major universities have raised conflict of interest questions.

The guests are Dr. Jerome Kassirer, Distinguished Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and author of “On the Take: How Medicine’s Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health,” and Dr. Tom Stossel, Director of Translational Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Audio: BBC,PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, April 15th. Host: Robin Young

Meltdown Pool

A lot of boaters are anxious for the ice on Vermont's lakes to melt-- and so are gamblers. More than 11,000 gamblers to be precise.

Joe's Pond in West Danville is home to an international competition that's more than 20 years strong. People enter a contest to guess the exact day and time a cinder block on the ice will fall through. Each guess costs $1. The winner gets half the jackpot. The rest goes to the Joe's Pond Association.

"It's not so much the money. Money's nice, but it's just kind of neat to see how close we can get. Last year I was off 2 hours and 20 minutes. I wanted to come up and kick it in," said Brenda Sambel of Northfield.

The earliest the ice has gone out on Joe's Pond is April 16. The latest is May 6. It looks as if the ice on the pond this year will last at least another week.

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News
West Danville, Vermont - April 17, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sky Watch Friday

We are just a flea, living on a floating pea with the oven not far away. -- Photo: Ben Andrews
Starting Thursday evening at 7:30 GMT, hundreds of photographers provide links to their own blog or non commercial website postings of a picture which includes the sky: Sky Watch Friday.

Photo: Ben Andrews.
Caption: "We are just a flea, living on a floating pea with the oven not far away."

Spam Print

McAfee just released the details of a new study, conducted and published by ICF International, which seeks to measure the carbon footprint of spam. The study's conclusions: The global annual energy used to transmit, process, and filter 62 trillion spam emails is the equivalent to powering 2.4 million homes, and generating that much electricity releases 17 million tons of CO2.

Article: ABC News, April 16th. Article: BBC News, April 16th. Original Study

So far neither Hormel, nor the Vikings, have commented.

Commission Proposes TV Energy Standards

Officials in California are considering tougher energy efficiency standards for new, big-screen television sets.

Big screen and high definition TV's draw much more electricity than the old, smaller screen, analog sets.

Photo: Dallas News
Audio: NPR's Morning Edition, April 15th.

Britain's Favorite Song: 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale'

Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" has just been named Britain's most-played song in public places over the last 75 years.

Matthew Fisher's evocative organ counter-melody lives on in music history despite a legal battle over royalties. While suggestive of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Sleepers Awake" and "Air on a G String", contrary to popular belief, the song is not a direct copy or paraphrase of any particular Bach composition.

Audio: NPR's All Things Considered, April 15th.

Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade Of Pale (1967)
Vocals and piano played by Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher played the Hammond organ, and the lyrics were written by Keith Reid.

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well've been closed

For two more verses not included in the recording:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Extreme Sheep Herding

There are lots of sheep in the hills of Wales, and a least a few shepherds with enough LEDs, a camera and time on their hands to create a huge and amazing display.

YouTube video from the BaaaStuds - March 16, 2009 &

Urban Hunter

With auto industry troubles aggravating the recession in Detroit, a resourceful urban hunter finds food for the table and economic opportunities everywhere.

Article & Video: Detroit News, 2nd.

Horses with Hairdos

Australian photographer Julian Wolkenstein plays "My Little Pony"

Video: NBC Today, April 13th.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's Teabag Day!

Rachel Maddow struggles to keep a straight face:

MSNBC, April 9th.

Keith Olbermann dips in to the controversy:

News Event or Fox Promotion?

MSNBC, April 14th.

Obviously, none of the serious teabaggers have looked up the term, but clearly Jon Stewart has:

And one well read fellow shows America how it's done:

Look to the Skies

PBS special airing this month:
400 Years of the Telescope

Producer's web site.

The largest known black hole in the known universe was discovered in January of 2008. It beats out its nearest competitor, the black hole in the heart of M87, by a factor of six. Located in the heart of a quasar called OJ287, it’s 3.5 billion light years away.

Photo from Dr. Jim Conwell, Eastern Illinois University.

What would it look like to fall into a black hole?

Andrew Hamilton and Gavin Polhemus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, programmed a computer simulation based on Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes gravity as a distortion of space and time.

Article & video: New Scientist, April 2009.

Ahoy Matey!

Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Becoming A Somali Pirate
10. Is piracy a recession-proof industry?
9. How am I at ducking sniper fire?
8. Is there enough swash in my buckle?
7. Before committing, should I temp as a pirate?
6. Am I doing this just to get babes?
5. Is there an all-inclusive meal plan?
4. Will I get to meet Johnny Depp?
3. Will I get along with pitcher Ross Ohlendorf?
(Sorry, ask that question before becoming a Pittsburgh Pirate)
2. Is there more opportunity for advancement in Al Qaeda?
1. How's the commute from Jersey?

Source: CBS Late Show with David Letterman, April 14th.

Humorist Brian Unger discusses the huge cultural shift that Americans must undergo as we embark on the modern Global War on Pirates.

Audio: NPR's All Things Considered, April 14th.

PTSD in the Post Iraq PD

Almost 40 percent of American soldiers
home from the war report
psychological symptoms.

-- June 2007 Department of Defense
Task Force on Mental Health report

Soldiers Return Home To Find An Unwelcoming Job Market

Fred Thys examines employment prospects for returning Iraq & Afghanistan vets experiencing PTSD... including some who aspire to continued service in public safety positions. Low seniority compounds the battle scars.

Article & Audio: WBUR-FM, Boston - April 14th.

Electronic Books released Kindle 2.0, the electronic book tablet with its new computer voiced reader. Meanwhile, Google is creating the largest on-line library in the world.

David Weinberger, from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society explores pros and cons.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, April 10th. Host: Deborah Becker

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Troubled Times

American’s flagship newspaper is a sinking ship. So says journalist Mark Bowden, who writes about the paper’s fifth-generation publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Junior, in the new issue of Vanity Fair Magazine. The article is timely because the New York Times is playing hardball, threatening to close the Boston Globe unless the paper's unions agree to 20-million-dollars in cuts.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, April 9th. Host: Deborah Becker.

Paper late, or paperless

Where Newspaper Racks Go To Die

Pretty much all you need to know about the state of the industry.
No one buying, old technology thrown away.

These photos of unused newspaper racks in a San Francisco storage yard were taken March 13, 2009 by Noah Berger/AP.

Mattress Rides

From: menetekel on Mar 26, 2008

Mow The Lawn

UK TV ad for the Wilkinson Sword Quattro razor.

8 sexy commercials compiled by The Daily Beast, April 12th.

Mowing, trimming and grooming on a grand scale are all part of preparing the field of play... NPR talked to a Washington Nationals groudskeeper about the fine points of getting ready for opening day.

Audio: NPR, All Things Considered, April 13th.

Monday, April 13, 2009

La Donna È Mobile

"La donna è mobile" ('the woman is fickle' or movable, unstable, changeable) is the Duke of Mantua's complaint in Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto (1851).

The Duke is a callous playboy himself. So who is really mobile?

A wise friend I knew about the same time I was trying to know the artist said we're most likely to accuse others of something we don't like about ourselves.

Illustration: 'Puzzle' by Nikki Nash (2004)
Music: East Village Opera Company (2005)

Practical Limits

Sometimes you can be a little too dedicated to your job...

YouTube posting by: cheinema October 17, 2006

Cutting Down the Bad News

American Radio Works' producer Krissy Clark is preparing a documentary on the devastating foreclosure crisis happening in Las Vegas. There's a wealth of material and hard choices to make in cutting it all down to fit.

Audio: American Radio Works blog, April 10th.

ShamWow in Spanish

You'll wonder if it's possible, but yeah, he's even creepier in Spanish!

The Daily Beast includes Vince in their all time list of crazy pitchmen.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Can Coal be Earth-Friendly?

That was the question expolred here with several posts on Friday:

Mountaintop Removal
'Clean Coal' debate
Seltzer Sequestration

And in greater depth on that evening's edition of Now on PBS

Bad Hair Daze

Where all universities demand their faculty publish research papers, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology encourages its staff to obtain patents and exploit their research as entrepreneurs, such as this MIT team which promises to tame frizzy hair:

Video: NECN April 10th. Anchor - Beth Shelburne / Reporter - John Moroney

Redefining ISMs

A Rasmussen poll released Thursday April 9th revealed “only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.” Significantly Ramussen didn't define either "ism," and left the choice to whatever the respondents' current understanding of the two systems might be.

This in itself is fascinating, for while previous results show greater support for a free market economy, that term wasn't defined either, and current results reflect beliefs that markets aren't as free as the term suggests, and that Soviet or Chinese authoritarianism isn't the inevitable alternative to anarchic capitalism.

The New York Times Tobin Harshaw compiled reaction from around the web in "The Weekend Opinionator: A Different Sort of Red America."

Illustration: cover photo from How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All, the second comedy album by The Firesign Theatre. It was originally released in 1969 by Columbia Records.

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