Sunday, November 30, 2008


Over 99% of all species that ever lived are now extinct. The "Big Five" mass extinctions are identified here.

He Can Do No Wrong

The Crown of England, known as St. Edward's Crown, is the official coronation crown used exclusively in the coronation of a new monarch. Image source here.

"That the king can do no wrong is a necessary and fundamental principle of the English constitution."
- Sir William Blackstone [1723-1780], Commentaries

An earlier reference to Blackstone on this blog here.

Very Bad Toys

Radar takes a look.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sleight of Hand

sleight of hand; magic tricks; any illusory feat
A show of skill or deceitful cleverness: financial legerdemain
Etymology: French 'light of hand'

Getting around in Ireland

Caracas to Havana

Sean Penn and friends interview Hugo Chávez and Raúl Castro here. No mention of Boligarchs.


Human-powered treadmill: Congrats, homo sapiens.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Skin Bleaching

Mumbai Carnage

An earlier post on the Taj Mumbai here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Simon Schama's Bolognese sauce recipe here.

Earlier references to Simon Schama on this blog here and here. To Guernica here.

The Future of Blogging

Matt Mullenweg's Wikipedia profile here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mugabe, Friend of Cholera

Top 20 Optical Illusions

The Telegraph shares the top 20 optical illusions here.

Sieg Heil

Hitler faces foreclosure.

UK Financial Crisis

The Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street, London, England.

A NewsHour report.

An American appreciates Tom Thompson

Donald Pittenger's perspective here.

Planet Finance

Professor Niall Ferguson [born 1964] examines the global financial crisis in Vanity Fair here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Portraits of Girl and Woman

Domenico Ghirlandaio [1449-1494] "celebrated God's creation in the faces of ordinary people."

What is Money?

Ponder no longer.

Monster Truck Rally

Metal Heart from Keith Loutit on Vimeo


Image by Pasug.

According to Hindu belief, inspired ancient sages, known as Rishis, heard the Vedas - the poetic scripture that comprise the foundation of Hinduism - directly from the Gods.

"The Hindu religion doesn't have one specific founder. The foundation of Hinduism is that there is one God who appears in many ways."

Drinking in Space

2001 Cartoon of the Year

Steve Bell won political cartoon of the year for this piece in 2001 depicting W's [born 1946] first visit to the UK. Cartoonists, editors and historians judged the award, sponsored by the Spectator and the Political Cartoon Society.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Austria's Mona Lisa

Gustav Klimt's [1862-1918] Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907. Gold Portrait.  

Guide to Smoking Pot Around the World

The rundown here.

banality of evil

Guard handing note written by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann [1906-1932] to defense attorneys; Eichmann sitting in glass booth surrounded by guards during trial for atrocities committed during WWII. Photograph by Gjon Mili, Jerusalem, 1961.

From Wiki:
The banality of evil is a phrase coined in 1963 by Hannah Arendt [1906-1975] in her work Eichmann in Jerusalem. It describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Woz Wiz

Apple co-founder Stephen Wozniak [born 1955] takes his Segway everywhere.

Quality Advertising

"lightsabres make you manly among men"

Bulgarian Mafia

“Other countries have the mafia, but in Bulgaria, the mafia has the country.”

Even so, "Britain is scarier than Bulgaria."

Story here.

Inside Jobs

"The Macintosh is inside of me, and I've got to get it out and turn it into a product."
- Steve Jobs [born 1955]

"Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."
- Michelangelo [1475-1564]

Does Religion Make You Nice?

Soviet children getting a demonstration of practical atheism during lunch. Photograph by Charles E. Steinheimer, 1950.

A global study finds atheiststic societies tended to have relatively low murder and suicide rates and relatively low incidence of abortion and teen pregnancy, compared to highly religious and devout communities.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Houses of Dying

Image source here.

Varanasi on the Ganges River is the most sacred site in India; where creation started and where the world and time will end.

If you die here the Hindu god Shiva will release you from samsara - the painful, eternal birth, death and rebirth cycle on earth so that you will achieve moksha or enlightenment.


on stupidity

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]

An earlier reference to Emerson on this blog here.

agnostics and atheists

Fraction of atheists and agnostics in different countries. The values for China, Cuba, and North Korea must be viewed with skepticism as comparatively little data is available in these countries. Source here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

create and recreate culture

Image source here.

"If the Internet teaches us anything, it is that great value comes from leaving core resources in a commons, where they're free for people to build upon as they see fit." 
- Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig [born 1961] has a blog here.

Bruce Lee plays ping-pong with nunchucks

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Nicholas Carr [born 1959] asks here.

An earlier reference to Google here.

Garden of Eden

Basques talking to birds here.

What should I do to save myself?

Published in 1678, The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come by John Bunyan [1628-1688] is a Christian allegory. Innovative because it was the first book to combine "a ripping yarn with the Gospel truth." 

A poor tinker, Bunyan was a pioneer of the extension of the diary to spiritual autobiography and laid the groundwork for the novel.

From depression to rebirth; textbook guide to salvation. If a wretched sinner like Bunyan could be saved, there was hope for all.

Somali Piracy 101

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Perhaps how the Pyramids were built


La Lancha, Peten, Guatemala. Photo source here.

"If I don't succeed, I will be destroyed. You should always reach for something you can't quite grasp."
- Francis Ford Coppola [born 1939] made the dreadful Godfather: Part III to save himself; he had already slid into bankruptcy and was losing his winery. Part of his income now comes from destination hotels he owns: La Lancha Resort in Guatemala and Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize, which share the same website.  

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" 
- Robert Browning [1812-1889]

An earlier reference on this blog to Francis Ford Coppola here.

Mozart's Symphony No. 40

easy target

A biography of Donald Trump here.

Nazi Propaganda

Leni Riefenstahl's [1902-2003] Triumph of the Will which was released in 1935.

Teacher encourages plagiarism

“I’ve come to believe that creativity by its nature is fluid and will assume any form it’s poured into.”
- Kenneth Goldsmith [born 1961]


Elton John [born 1947] bought something from Thrush Holmes [born 1979] who is a rising Toronto artist in the banal, vacuous Andy Warhol convention.

My Type

This image purports to show what parts of my brain were dominant during the writing of this blog.  claims to be able to analyze a blog and determine its "type." I submitted this blog and their report is here:

ESTJ - The Guardians

The organizing and efficient type. They are especially attuned to setting goals and managing available resources to get the job done. Once they´ve made up their mind on something, it can be quite difficult to convince otherwise. They listen to hard facts and can have a hard time accepting new or innovative ways of doing things.

The Guardians are often happy working in highly structured work environments where everyone knows the rules of the job. They respect authority and are loyal team players.


Sebastiano Ricci [1659-1734], Solomon's Idolatry

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 
- Book of Exodus 20:4

"This particular command resonates, because images became the symbol of the great confidence trick, which the old Roman Catholic Church had played. It had got people to spend money on these things. It had got people to direct worship towards the statue instead of the divine thing behind it, and that became the great blasphemy."
- Diarmaid MacCulloch [born 1951]

Iconoclasm, Greek for "image-breaking", is the deliberate destruction within a culture of the culture's own religious icons and other symbols or monuments.

"Destruction of art under the banner of religious fundamentalism."

1958 air travel included smoking

Pan Am declared bankruptcy in 1991.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"Excuse me for talking, while you're interrupting."
- directed to the prolific Christopher Hitchens [born 1949]

Earlier references to Hitchens on this blog here and here.


"There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly in the only heritage he has to leave."
- Ernest Hemingway [1899-1961]

Earlier references to Hemingway here and here.


Cory Booker [born 1969] speaking in 2006. It's obvious why everyone thinks he's next in line for the White House.

Crime has dropped 40% since he became Mayor of Newark. Shortly after been sworn in he and his security team literally chased down and caught a bank robber.

Kris Kringle

"It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities."
- H.L. Mencken[1880-1956]

Passive Aggressive Notes

Passive Aggressive Notes: Painfully Polite And Hilariously Hostile Writings
Passive Aggressive Notes mines a niche of the found-humor vein first tapped by Found magazine (which didn't make this list because it started life as a 'zine, not a website). The site compiles user-submitted photographs of handwritten notes discovered in offices, apartment buildings, dorm rooms, and anywhere else the annoying foibles of humanity knock up against each other. The book version of the website doesn't go much further than including some never-before-seen examples of thinly veiled hostility, though it is loosely arranged by theme, which allows for some interesting insight into people's various confrontational styles: Witness a series of notes devoted to changing the toilet-paper roll, which range from a series of illustrated Post-Its demonstrating proper roll-changing technique to a single square clinging to an empty cardboard tube with the word "douche" scratched on it in big black Sharpie letters. From the banal ("For the love of God, please stop burning the popcorn!") to the absurd ("Opera singer: Close your windows or shut up."), Passive Aggressive Notes is a testament to the (often unintentional) hilarity that we're all capable of when pissed off and armed with anonymity.

[This is an AV Club story]

Garfield Minus Garfield

This is an AV Club story

So many webcomics eventually get collected into book form that we decided to leave webcomics as a whole off this list, but 
Garfield Minus Garfield
isn't actually a webcomic so much as an anti-newspaper-comic. Creator Dan Walsh finds the weirdness and angst in Jim Davis' committee-created, achingly banal comic strip Garfield by erasing the title character, plus selected word balloons from other characters, in order to leave Garfield's owner Jon Arbuckle alone in the strip. The results are surreal and depressing: Jon talks to himself, attempts to amuse himself, and bursts into tears, or just winds up staring blankly at walls. But Walsh isn't just creating Dada nonsense, he's pointing out that this Garfield is a cat, cats can't talk, and Jon really is just talking creepily to himself whenever he "converses" with his grouchy pet. The recent book collection Garfield Minus Garfield—approved by Davis, who'll seemingly approve anything for a buck—goes the website one better by showing the original strips alongside the altered ones. Oddly, this makes Walsh's recreations less funny, since it's much clearer how dumb the strips were to start with.

Biblical justification for slavery

Ham's Curse.

An earlier reference to Michelangelo's Drunkeness of Noah here.


Josiah Wedgewood [1730-1795] was a Protestant capitalist pioneer. He brought into existence a pottery union that would help people when they were ill, for example. Whole families worked for him, which would not have happened had he not been a good employer.

Update: After 250 years, Wedgewood has filed for bankruptcy protection. More here.

Elect of Damned?

John Calvin [1509-1564]

"You probably wouldn't have a good night out with Calvin, who was austere, serious, concentrated; but you would with Luther."
- Diarmaid McCulloch [born 1951]

Calvin's Predestination taught that the Catholic route to Heaven was hopelessly awry; Calvin's Protestants believed that a select few were chosen and that the rest were cast into hell.

Wealth was the best evidence of God's favor; private and spiritual capital were linked.

Benjamin Franklin [1706-1790] popularized the Protestant work ethic:

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

More Franklin here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thousand Year Fest

still prefers Italy to Hollywood

"I also used these realistic sounds in a psychological way. With The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I used animal sounds - as you say, the coyote sound - so the sound of the animal became the main theme of the movie."

- Ennio "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" Morricone [born 1928] conducts some of his compositions from the film.


"I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."
- J.B.S. Haldane [1892-1964]

1st Great Monument to Workers

Gustave Courbet [1819-1877] intended his 1849 The Stonebreakers as simply a straightforward depiction of his neighbors.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The more you know

... the more you know you don’t know.

The Downing Effect describes the tendencies of people with below average intelligence quotients [IQs] to overestimate their intelligence, and of people with above average intelligence to underestimate their intelligence.

skull jockey

"Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires."
- Sigmund Freud [1856-1939]