February 28, 2006

I Can't Drive 55

285 Traffic
The speed limit around the Atlanta perimeter is 55 MPH. But don't get caught actually DRIVING that slowly. We all know how fast people go around the loop. Keeping with the flow of traffic can lead you upwards of 75 MPH depending on the time of day.

One group of friends decided to prove that it's actually MORE DANGEROUS to drive the lawful speed limit. They make their point in a glorious act of civil OBEDIENCE... by driving around the perimeter at 55 MPH, across ALL the lanes, line abreast formation. Watch what happens.

(Excellent capture of the act, but the video itself is a bit heavy on gratuitous editing.) Thanks to Justin for pointing this out.

Leave a Legacy

Just another of my random musings. At Walt Disney World's Epcot, you enter into the park right in front of their centerpiece, Spaceship Earth. As you walk in you go through the "Leave A Legacy" gardens.

Leave A Legacy is part of the ongoing efforts to allow people to leave a bit of themselves at DisneyWorld (Legally, without scattering peoples' ashes into the Seven Seas Lagoon). First, they sold the paving stones that stretch for miles around the big lake. You could have your family's name and a year engraved in a 6" hexagonal brick for $50 or so.

Not a bad idea. It more than financed the repaving of the seldom-used walkway, taking in about $200 a square foot. A friend of mine even bought one in DisneyLand to propose to his now-wife. So when disney decided to expand the idea, they did what any real estate developer does: Go Vertical and maximize your profit.

So now we have "Leave a Legacy", which was introduced at the Epcot millennium Celebration. For $35 you can have a 3" monochrome picture of your family engraved on metal plates which are attached on stone columns in the entrance to Epcot. Since the individual items are smaller, and they are displayed vertically, you can squeeze more in, and it generates $560 per square foot.

The only problem is that it reminds people of the Vietnam Memorial. The displays look like tombstones. A nicely planned graveyard, but a graveyard nonetheless.

Leave a Legacy

The architects say it's supposed to "subtly lead the eyes up to the great heights of Spaceship Earth." But on a recent trip, I discovered the hidden purpose behind the design: In the case of Spaceship Earth's enormous globe breaking free from its moorings, the "Leave A Legacy" memorial gardens will act as a ramp, directing the rolling geodesic structure down the center of the entryway, away from most of the crowds. Kind of like the opening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

It's a safety feature. With the gardens in place, guests have to go up the sides and not directly up the middle. That is why the Legacy pillars have to be at least 6' tall, so that they will shield the guests and distribute the sphere's weight evenly over its tops, allowing it to roll (mostly) harmlessly into the parking lot.

This has been another episode of "Disney Conspiracy Theory Theater". Until next time, I'm your host, Chris saying, "TTFN."

February 27, 2006

Rave Sign

On second Glance, the sign reads "TRAVEL", with the first and last letters covered up. It's sitting behind a dumpster across from Mall of Georgia, behind Anime Remix. Apparently the Travel place went out of business. It might still be there, if anyone wants a sign that could be modified to say "RAVE"

One-Line Movie Reviews: "Brokeback Mountain"

From WorkBuddy Sam:
"Gay cowboys in the 60's have about the same chance at lasting happiness as a janitor on the Titanic."

And Bonus Review: "Curious George"
"Very cute movie, the kid loved it and the wife is already scouring iTunes for more Jack Johnson."

February 24, 2006

LinkNews Digest [02/24/2006]

McDonalds Sued Over Fry Ingredients

CHICAGO - McDonald's Corp. faces at least three lawsuits claiming the fast-food giant misled the public after it acknowledged earlier this week its french fries contain milk and wheat ingredients.

Debra Moffatt of Lombard, Ill., seeks unspecified damages in a suit filed Friday in Chicago. Her attorney, Thomas Pakenas, said his client has celiac disease, which causes gastrointestinal symptoms set off by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat.

Mark and Theresa Chimiak of Jupiter, Fla., sued Friday in Florida, claiming their 5-year-old daughter has an intolerance to gluten and became seriously ill after eating the fries. Nadia Sugich of Los Angeles sued Wednesday, saying she eats no animal products and would not have eaten the fries had she known they contained dairy ingredients.

McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Ill., said Monday that wheat and dairy products are used to flavor its fries. Before its acknowledgment Monday, the company had quietly added "Contains wheat and milk ingredients" to the french fries listing on its Web site. (LINK )

Even the Dogs in SanFran Will Recycle

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco, a leader in urban recycling, is preparing to enlist its canine population for a first in the United States: converting dog poop into energy.

Norcal Waste Systems Inc., the city's garbage company, plans to test collection carts and biodegradable bags in a city-center park popular with dog walkers.

A city study found that almost 4 percent of all the garbage picked up at San Francisco homes was from animal waste destined for the city's landfill, Norcal Waste spokesman Robert Reid said. San Francisco has an estimated 120,000 dogs.

"The city asked us to start thinking about a pilot program to recycle the dog poop in order to cut back adding more waste in landfills," Reid said.

Dog feces could be scooped into a methane digester, a device that uses bugs and microorganisms to gobble up the material and emit methane, which would be trapped and burned to power a turbine to make electricity or to heat homes.

Dogs and cats in the United States produce about 10 million tonnes of waste a year, Will Brinton, an environmental scientist and owner-director of Woods End Laboratories in Maine, said. (LINK )

Wayans Attempts Trademark for N-Word

The actor Damon Wayans has been engaged in a 14-month fight to trademark the term "N---a" [rhymes with "Bigga" - ed.] for a clothing line and retail store, a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online database reveals.

Wayans wants to dress customers in 14 kinds of attire from tops to bottoms, and use the controversial mark on "clothing, books, music and general merchandise," as well as movies, TV and the internet, according to his applications.

But, so far, his applications have been unsuccessful. Trademark examiner Kelly Boulton rejected the registration dated Dec. 22, citing a law that prohibits marks that are "immoral or scandalous." A previous attempt by Wayans was turned down on identical grounds six months earlier.

"While debate exists about in-group uses of the term, 'n---a' is almost universally understood to be derogatory," Boulton wrote to Wayans' attorney, William H. Cox, according to the application.

The word "n---a" is ubiquitous in hip-hop music, where it provides half of a rhyming couplet radio listeners never get to hear in the Grammy-winning song "Gold Digger" by Kanye West. Ol' Dirty Bastard used the term 76 times in the 1999 album N---a Please, not counting repetitions in a chorus.

"The very fact that debate is ongoing regarding in-group usage, shows that a substantial composite of African-Americans find the term 'n---a' to be offensive," Boulton wrote in rejecting Wayans.

Though attempts to commercialize "N---a" coincide with a generational shift in how the word is perceived, the clothing is still likely to test some boundaries, as Rhodan demonstrated in a phone interview.

"You couldn't wear it," he said. (LINK via WIRED)

"Obtenez-La Faite!"

Daniel, our friend from Canada, has been staying with us for a few extra days before Taking Off to the Great White North ("Take off... it's a beauty way to go..."). This year, heating his apartment had become so expensive, that he decided to shut the place down, drive to the Southern US of A, and stay on the couches of friends for a couple of months.
We've done our best to be good hosts and introduce him to our fine southern culture, as we do when Miho is with us from Japan. So, last night we grilled up some Quesadillas, which he made "Canadian" by pouring MAPLE SYRUP on them. *shudder* I also introduced him to "The Blue Collar Comedy Tour." (Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White & Larry the Cable Guy.) How would YOU explain the phrase "Git 'Er Done!" to a French Canadian? BabelFish sugggests the title above, but suggestions are welcome.

And if you bring down CANADIAN American Cheese to the States, instead of buying AMERICAN American Cheese... You just might be a Canadian Redneck.

February 20, 2006

CD Wrappers Are Now Safe

Alas, poor Pocket Knife, I hardly knew ye. It's a tragedy, but "the little penknife that could" is no more. Yes, the inspiration for my commentary in the AJC last year on the absurdity that Homeland Security takes us to, is no more.

Well, it was only a matter of time. Cats only have nine lives, and likewise there were only so many public places that I could take a sharp metal pointy-thing before it was confiscated for good. It was just it's time, I guess. It has gone on to cutlery heaven, where it can frolic in the fields, be sharp forever and live in peace and harmony with all the toenail clippers, toothpicks and tweezers that have been confiscated at airports.

It was taken at the standard Search-N-Seizure Station at the entrance to the Georgia Aquarium. Yeah, apparently FISH are now the top target of muslim extremists. (Probably because of that whole thing about Christ using that as a symbol.) Even if I were a terrorist, what the heck could I do with a 1" dull blade and a nail file? SLOWLY work my way through the 2-foot thick plexiglass? Perhaps fillet a very small, but expensive tropical fish? I sure as hell wouldn't be able to take anyone hostage with it.

As a replacement, Melissa bought me an all-plastic cutter that's mostly handle, and about 1mm of actual cutting surface. The only metal piece is a magnet, so you can stick it on a fridge. I can only hope that THIS one will make it through security. Because the NTSA has no idea about the pain and embarrasment that my condition, "No- FingerNail-itis", can cause people.

UPDATE: I just discovered that the AJC published another of my articles, unbeknownst to me, last June! I've just added it to the WORDS section of the site. It concerns my rather unconventional methods of pest control. Unlike Justin, mine does not involve a handgun.

February 19, 2006

T-Shirt Shop

Some of you may know of my difficulties with CafePress, and their rather draconian policies of "infringing" merchandise. (Actually, it's perfectly LEGAL to have a t-shirt with a picture of people in hobbit costumes. The Tolkien Estate can sit and spin if they want a royalty check from that. It's called "fair use," Look it up.)

In my quest to find merchandising alternatives, I lucked out. I moved the merchandise site for ArmsOfMiddleEarth.com there and even opened up a shop for myself.

I've always wanted my own T-Shirt shop with snarky sayings on them. You'll see my featured shirts on the sidebar. You can purchase my shirts secure in the knowledge that 100% of the profits go to the "Keep Chris & Mel Out of Debtors Prison" fund. Some people do Avon or Pampered Chef to keep money in the bank, and I just thought this was more fun.

So hop on over and check out my wares: SiriusGraphics Brand Quality Swag

February 17, 2006

LinkNews Digest [02/17/2006]

RIAA Sez: Ripping Your CDs May Be Illegal

As part of the on-going DMCA rule-making proceedings, the RIAA and other copyright industry associations submitted a filing that included this gem as part of their argument that space-shifting and format-shifting do not count as noninfringing uses, even when you are talking about making copies of your own CDs:
"Nor does the fact that permission to make a copy in particular circumstances is often or even routinely granted, necessarily establish that the copying is a fair use when the copyright owner withholds that authorization. In this regard, the statement attributed to counsel for copyright owners in the MGM v. Grokster case is simply a statement about authorization, not about fair use."

For those who may not remember, here's what Don Verrilli said to the Supreme Court last year:
"The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod."

Cheyney's Got A Gun

A roundup of the Late Shows' Cheyney-Shoots-Lawyer jokes:
David Letterman:
  • "But here is the sad part: before the trip Donald Rumsfeld had denied the guy's request for body armor."
  • "The guy who got gunned down, he is a Republican lawyer and a big Republican donor and fortunately the buck shot was deflected by wads of laundered cash. So he's fine. He took a little in the wallet."

    Jay Leno:
  • "That's the big story over the weekend. ... Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fellow hunter, a 78-year-old lawyer. In fact, when people found out he shot a lawyer, his popularity is now at 92 percent."
  • "I think Cheney is starting to lose it. After he shot the guy he screamed, 'Anyone else want to call domestic wire tapping illegal?'"

    Craig Ferguson:
  • "You can understand why this lawyer fellow let his guard down, because if you're out hunting with a politician, you think, 'If I'm going to get it, it's going to be in the back.' "

    Jon Stewart:
  • "Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt ... making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting veep since Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, of course, (was) shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird."
  • "Now, this story certainly has its humorous aspects. ... But it also raises a serious issue, one which I feel very strongly about. ... moms, dads, if you're watching right now, I can't emphasize this enough: Do not let your kids go on hunting trips with the vice president. I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land, or energy regulations they're trying to get lifted -- it's just not worth it." (LINK)

  • See Also: NeedneNose's Handy Hunting Visual Aid:

  • Loner sent me this link to A "Cheyney Shot ___" story generator. Plug in a name and a pic and get Some Funny (if entirely unrealistic) Results

    That's "DEPUTY Hulk" to You!

    Lou Ferrigno, 54, who played the green-skinned monster on the CBS-TV show from 1977 to 1982, was sworn in during a ceremony Monday night.

    "My father was a police officer with the New York Police Department; I've always had a high respect for officers," Ferrigno told The Associated Press. [He] began training to become a reserve deputy last September after passing a background check. He completed training in firearms, first aid, and high-speed driving techniques and was recognized as "an outstanding trainee" by Sheriff Lee Baca.

    In recent years, Ferrigno has appeared as himself on the CBS sitcom "The King of Queens." (LINK)

    "Freedom Fries" - Revisited

    TEHRAN (Reuters) - Not content with pelting European embassies with petrol bombs to protest against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, Iranians have decided to rename the "Danish pastries" relished by this nation of cake lovers.

    From now on, the sweet, flaky pastries which dominate the shelves in Iran's cake shops will be known as "Roses of the Prophet Mohammad," the official IRNA news agency reported as pressure on Denmark over the cartoons took on a new dimension.

    "No one is allowed to make fun of our beloved and respected Prophet," Hassan Nasserzadeh, a cake-shop owner in central Tehran, told Reuters.

    The pastries are baked every day and are not imported or subject to any boycott of Danish goods imposed over the cartoons. (LINK )
    [ASIDE: Ridiculpoathy TOTALLY called this one. - Ed.]

    "Honey, Why are you calling my Cell all day long?"

    So Hideto Tomabechi, one of the guys who helped deprogram members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan, has started selling a ringtone that he says will make your breasts grow larger just by listening to it, something which should make it very popular with the ladies (guys, you're gonna want to carry some earplugs just in case). Fortunately there are customer testimonials in case you were worried about this thing being legit or not, and Tomabechi says it's really simple, that he just uses sounds that "make the brain and body move unconsciously. It's a technique involving subliminal effects," that's like "positive brainwashing." If getting all busty through a ringtone isn't your bag, he also ringtones on the way that'll improve your memory, make you more attractive to the opposite sex, cure baldness, and help you give up smoking. (LINK)

  • Featured Link:Fark's Photoshop Contest: Offensive Muslim Depictions in Sitcoms (left)
  • LED "Throwies": Magnetic clusters of powered LED's make a fun, innovative decoration for Metal Buildings.
  • General Zod on the topic of Valentines Day (via i-mockery)
  • Dissecting Gamera?
  • "Remixing the Magic" Exhibition in LA - Artistic re-interpretations of Disney
  • My Buddy Justin makes a good catch of a Tim Burton Easter Egg
  • Don't Get a Drink at a Tampa McDonalds..."

  • Some amazing aerial photos of Mexico City. The Housing Developments (left) are staggering.
  • February 14, 2006

    February 13, 2006

    Now we are Four

    My little man turned Four on Saturday. Birthday party at McDonalds was as fun as I remember, at least for the kids. Much better to have them in an enclosed play area instead of playing "Fetch That Kid!" in a bowling alley like last year. It was actually a very nice experience, and the McDonalds had a dedicated employee taking our orders, setting up and cleaning up when they were all done. Not a bad investment.

    But Four years old. Wow. Today we're nagging him to get into the bathroom. In only eight years, we'll be knocking on the door asking him to come OUT of it. But seriously, he's made loads of progress since last year. It's true what a wise parent told me though: "Worries about your kids never end. Old worries that are solved are replaced by new ones at an alarming rate."

    Last year he wasn't talking much at all. This weekend, he was talking with his friend Phillip about saying "no" to Mommy. We have a picture on our mantle of Miho and Matthew when he was just a baby, him teeting on my PS2 controller. And on Miho's visit this year, Matthew's "cutting his teeth" figuratively on the first game he can really play all by himself, "Star Wars - Super Bombad Racing", basically MarioKart with the SW Episode 1 characters. (This was a gag gift to ME from Justin a few years back, and now it's Matthew's favorite toy.) He isn't a good racer, he mainly likes to run into the robots to make them blow up. That and run his ship off the waterfall. Over and over and OVER again. Whee!

    Anyway, It's amazing to see how kids mature over just a year. Now if we can only get the Dept. of Education to return our call about placing him in Pre-K...

    February 09, 2006

    LinkNews Digest [02/10/2006]

    "Clean Needles" Rationale Taken Too Far

    British Nurses are now suggesting that "Cutters" should be given clean blades and How-To advice.
    "My instinct is that it is better to sit with the patient and talk to them while they are self-harming. We should definitely give advice on safer parts of the body to cut. It could get to the stage where we could have a discussion with the patient about how deep the cuts were going to be and how many."
    Every year 170,000 people attend hospital accident-and-emergency departments after deliberately harming themselves. A proportion of these do so on a regular basis, sometimes over decades. Many do so to release stress or cope with traumatic events or depression. (LINK )

    "Maid in Japan" Cafes for Geeks

    I SO want to go to Japan!
    TOKYO (Reuters) - "Welcome home, Master," says the maid as she bows deeply, hands clasped in front of a starched pinafore worn over a short pink dress.

    This maid serves not some aristocrat but a string of pop-culture-mad customers at a "Maid Cafe" in Tokyo's Akihabara district, long known as a Mecca for electronics buffs but now also the center of the capital's "nerd culture."

    Maid cafes dot Akihabara, which has become a second home for Tokyo's "otaku" -- roughly translated as "geeks." They're known for their devotion to comics and computer games and can easily be identified by their standard outfit of track suit, knapsack and spectacles.

    At one cafe, maids get down on their knees to stir the cream and sugar into the customer's coffee. At Royal Milk, diners can follow up a meal with a range of grooming services, including ear cleanings. Maids at some of the more attentive shops even offer to spoon-feed customers at their table.

    Maid cafes have mushroomed since they first emerged about four years ago, evolving from cafes where waiting staff emulated characters from a popular series of role-playing video games, often dressed in schoolgirl-inspired uniforms. (LINK )

    How to Tell If You Fit In at Work

    If you send an email reading:
    As scheduled, I will be out tomorrow. I don’t anticipate any issues, but call me in the event of a Godzilla-Destroying-Downtown-Little-Rock kind of disaster.

    and your boss responds:
    Enjoy your day off. If Godzilla comes to LR, none of us will be calling you. We will be too busy running and screaming.

    "Muslims are not violent!" and to prove it...

    The Muslim world rioting over a Danish Cartoon. But the riots are against the U.S., our bases and embassies. Because apparently, we have our hands in everything, even Danish newspapers nowadays. All part of our nefarious plan.
    The U.S. base was targeted because the United States "is the leader of Europe and the leading infidel in the world," said Sher Mohammed, a 40-year-old farmer who suffered a gunshot wound while taking part in the demonstration in the city of Qalat. "They are all the enemy of Islam. They are occupiers in our country and must be driven out," Mohammed said

    I never thought I'd agree whole-heartedly with Ann Coulter, but these are Strange Days. Some clips from her commentary, 'Calvin and Hobbes and Muhammad':
    In order to express their displeasure with the idea that Muslims are violent, thousands of Muslims around the world engaged in rioting, arson, mob savagery, flag-burning, murder and mayhem, among other peaceful acts of nonviolence.

    Muslims are the only people who make feminists seem laid-back.
    The rioting Muslims claim they are upset because Islam prohibits any depictions of Muhammad -- though the text is ambiguous on beheadings, suicide bombings and flying planes into skyscrapers.

    The belief that Islam forbids portrayals of Muhammad is recently acquired. Back when Muslims created things, rather than blowing them up, they made paintings, frescoes, miniatures and prints of Muhammad. But apparently the Quran is like the Constitution: It's a "living document," capable of sprouting all-new provisions at will. Muslims ought to start claiming the Quran also prohibits indoor plumbing, to explain their lack of it.

    Other interpretations of the Quran forbid images of humans or animals, which makes even a child's coloring book blasphemous. That's why the Taliban blew up those priceless Buddhist statues, bless their innocent, peace-loving little hearts.
    Making the rash assumption for purposes of discussion that Islam is a religion and not a car-burning cult, even a real religion can't go bossing around other people like this.

    Catholics aren't short on rules, but they couldn't care less if non-Catholics use birth control. Conservative Jews have no interest in forbidding other people from mixing meat and dairy.

    I was right there with her until the last line, a two-penny zinger against liberals. For Allah's sake woman, you CAN make a point without falling back on that. I look forward to reading her expose the Bird Flu epidemic where she "ties it all together" with a circa-1998 joke about Clinton and a Cuban Cigar.

    February 06, 2006

    Super Bowl Sunday

    Miho, our friend from Japan has arrived at our house on the coat-tails of Daniel, who stayed with us for a week after ChattaCon. As we expected, Mattew is attached to her at the hip. Whenever he has to go anywhere he asks "Where's my Miho?" And at bedtime, he grabs her by the hand and says "No, Miho sleep with Matthew," as he leads her to his room. Eeeeeyah. We had to have a brief chat with him about that. The word "Cooties" may have been used.

    The girls took off with the kid to Savannah first, to pick up Maddy, and then off to Disney's Hilton Head Resort for a night. (Maddy was just hired as a College program recruiter for Disney, so they got the employee discount. Additionally, Miho works for Tokyo Disneyland, and had never been to a non-park Disney resort.)

    That left me with three days as a bachelor. No kid, no wife, no worries! I could just sit around all day, unshaven, unshowered, sitting on a beanbag chair in my underwear eating Cheetos and scratching myself if I wanted. But since I never did that even in my pre-Melissa days, I didn't have the urge to now. Mostly, I spent the day working on the web sites that I manage and setting up a new merchandise shop for AoME. Parents, isn't it AMAZING the stuff that you get done when there are suddenly NO interruptions? Don't get me wrong, you love the sources of those interruptions, but isn't it nice to have a big ol' patch of free time to devote to a task and knock it out?

    Around 4:30 PM yesterday, I realized that it was Super Bowl Sunday, and I had made no plans to watch it. As a man without the excuse of family obligations, that's a federal offense. I ended up over at Larry's place to watch with his family and parents. Before the pre-game, they were watching "The Count of Monte Cristo". Larry didn't believe me when I told them that they had adapted the story into an an Anime.

    The game was pretty exciting, lots of great plays and interceptions, but the Commercials were only average this year. A couple of good ones, namely The Following:
  • "The Magic Fridge" from Bud Light
  • "Caveman" from FedEX
  • "Waves" from Budweiser
  • "MacGyver" from MasterCard
  • "Super Fan" by Budweiser

    And THIS was just a waste of a good couple of Million:
  • "The Whopperettes" from Burger King

    (Thank goodness for YouTube!)

    This morning, I was about to go to work when I felt the patter of tiny snow that was predicted for North Georgia. It started off as dry sleet, then a light flurry, a 5-minute heavy flurry, and then resolved into the cold, miserable rain that we've had for the past three months.

    If I'm doomed to this kind of weather, why can't I at least live in England and have it?
  • February 03, 2006

    LinkNews Digest [02/03/2006]

    "Springtime for Hitler" a hit in Israel

    Bringing "The Producers" to Israel might seem like just another plot twist to Mel Brooks' Broadway musical about getting rich off a surefire theatrical flop. But it's for real, in Hebrew, and playing to packed houses.

    And in a country where the Holocaust is an abiding trauma, swastika armbands, Nazi helmets and the signature song "Springtime for Hitler" are going down as smoothly as they did in Brooks' movie.

    The production, which premiered January 26 at the 920-seat Kameri Theater, is a huge hit. But it was never a sure thing.

    On a recent night at the Kameri, the audience whooped, roared and applauded at the sight of Itzik Cohen's grotesquely obese Hitler, at Bialystock and Bloom (Israeli stars Shlomo Bar Abba and Dror Keren), and at Liebkind, the helmeted, pigeon-rearing Nazi playwright (Elli Gornstein).

    The response is in sharp contrast to the uproar that follows concert performances of the music of Hitler's favorite composer, the anti-Semitic Richard Wagner, and Almagor thinks the reaction to "The Producers" suggests "a certain maturity of Israeli audiences."(LINK )

    Western Union Sends Last Telegram

    "Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative."

    The decline of telegram use goes back at least to the 1980s, when long-distance telephone service became cheap enough to offer a viable alternative in many if not most cases. Faxes didn't help. Email could be counted as the final nail in the coffin.

    Western Union has not failed. It long ago refocused its main business to make money transfers for consumers and businesses. Revenues are now $3 billion annually. It's now called Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and is a subsidiary of First Data Corp.

    On Jan. 26, the last day you could send a telegram, First Data announced it would spin Western Union off as an independent, publicly traded company.(LINK )

    Japanese Invent Fridge Raider Robot

    Finally, The Japanese have created something to keep Americans from the crippling pain of having to get off their fat asses and get themselves another beer from the fridge.
    TOKYO - Though his movement is a bit stiff, slow and voice monotonous, he willingly turns on the television with a chest-mounted remote control, and brings a can of drink for you. Within years, a humanoid robot HRP-2, currently under development by a Japanese national technology institute, could be a little domestic helper.

    The robots, named Promet, are being developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and can run errands. They are designed to respond to verbal instructions and are capable of capturing three-dimensional images of objects and locating them through an infrared sensor.

    As Hara tells one of the two robots, "Please come here," it responds with a robotic voice saying, "What can I do for you?" Asked to turn on the TV, Promet repeats the instructions, "I will turn on the TV" before he executes the command.

    When Hara asks for a bottle of juice, the two demonstrate a more advanced task, one relays the instruction to the other, saying "Please take care of this." [Signs of Amercian Management style Delegation of work! -ed]

    The second robot huddles to a refrigerator, stands in front of it for a while, saying "Confirming the location of the refrigerator." Then he says "Searching for the juice," slowly opens the door with a right hand, grabs a bottle of drink with his left hand, shuts the fridge, then walks back to him, squats down at the table and carefully places it on the coffee table.(LINK )

    More Beer Fetching Robot Action

    Here’s a match made in heaven: beer and robots. For most of the world, it’s a match we are left to simply dream of (you know, slave bots bringing you a cold one, instead of the usual "Get it yourself!") If you live in Japan however, you should know that Asahi is running a promotion where they’ll be giving away 5,000 fully stocked refrigerator robots. What do these lovely creatures do?

    Well, aside from stocking and cooling up to six cans of beer and two mugs, upon the press of a button, the machine will open up a can, and pour in into the mug with a perfect head every time.

    To win one, contestants must collect 36 seals found on specially marked Asahi beers. Of course, you don’t have to drink the beer. but then you’d probably be missing the point.(LINK via Gizmodo )

    Deja Vu, Turk 182

    Teenage hooligans are being invited by Dutch transport chiefs to put their new underground trains to the test. The youths will be given free reign to tear up seats and pull apart fittings in the new trains to see which parts are vulnerable to violence and need improving.

    Amsterdam city councillor Mark van der Horst said: "We want to make sure our new trains for the city's underground are completely idiot-proof, and will see if the prototype can withstand vandalism before producing more of them.(LINK )

    Invention of the Week: The Approximate Watch

    What time is it? "Two hairs past a freckle, Eastern Elbow Time," says the Talus AboutTime, the watch that doesn’t really care what time it is. Well, it’s a little more exact than that. It notifies you of the time of day with breezy, insouciant phrases such as, "it’s coming up on a quarter past 8," or "it’s a bit past 5," or "it’s nearly 1 thirty." For those anal types who really must know exactly what time it is, a click of the crown takes you back into the world of "reality-based" timekeeping. Talus plans to have another model in its lineup called the Talus Timeline, an elongated rectangular watch where the hour numeral starts at the top and slowly floats down as the hour progresses. I suppose these watches, neither of which has been manufactured yet, would be great for those of us bloggers who make up the ranks of the pajamahadeen, but for button-down office types, not sure the boss would care for the idea of you showing up for work at "around 10." (LINK )

    February 02, 2006

    More Trailer Mash-ups

    A group called "Chocolate Cake City" presents "Brokeback to the Future"