Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from August 2005

When is a blog not a blog?

August 31st, 2005 · Comments Off on When is a blog not a blog?

When it’s a spam blog.

(12:11:06) feedster2003: ok. well to us you’re a spammer. You’re creating thousands of pages with no original content on them solely by ripping off other things and services.

(12:14:02) wgkollock: I see, I thought the people wanted their info used as free content, I really sorry about this. However it does clear up a problem I had Itohught the script did not work.

Tags: Feedster

Goodbye to revolving-and-cloud-spangled-Earth

August 30th, 2005 · Comments Off on Goodbye to revolving-and-cloud-spangled-Earth

Gorgeous movies from space in my mailbox this morning, thanks to Marc Abrahams.

Frank and I are headed out today–but not that far out–he to Bonn, I to London, and then we’ll meet up again in the other Cambridge.

As usual, the need to finish packing inspires a wish to spend time instead on my blog.

If Mercury Messenger shared this weakness of character, can you just imagine its wonderful blog?

Tags: Pilgrimages

Close encounter with Phoenicopteris ruber plasticus

August 30th, 2005 · Comments Off on Close encounter with Phoenicopteris ruber plasticus

I didn’t know many people at the Ig Nobel cookout, so I started chatting with two people wearing identical Sponge Bob shirts and tailored black shorts. “Yes, my husband and I have worn identical outfits every day for the past 27 years,” Nancy Featherstone told me. “Before that, we wore identical outfits only on weekends.”

Nancy and husband Don are Ig Nobel old hands — Don won a 1996 Ig Nobel Prize for inventing the pink plastic lawn flamingo.

I’m devastated that I won’t be able to go to this year’s Ig Nobels — we’re booked to be in Vienna on October 6 — but I’m helping with the slide show, and it will be awesome.

p.s. The earliest known rendering of a flamingo by a human artist is a Neolithic cave drawing in Spain, of approximately 5000 B.C., according to the Washington Post.

p.p.s. From the Amazon book blurb for Don’s flamingo book:

More than 40 years ago, artist Don Featherstone capitulated to reality and accepted employment with Union Products, hired to render a white duck and a pink plastic flamingo in three dimensions. The rest is cultural pop history: the Featherstone flamingo was born.

p.p.p.s. Don Featherstone, 1997 interview:

Throughout history, people have loved statuary. There’s plenty of evidence, in old paintings, in carvings, even in ancient hieroglyphics, that people have always loved to decorate their surroundings. In early America, for the longest time, there was no lawn ornamentation. Around the turn of the century, the Europeans started bringing over lawn ornaments in the form of bronze statuary. They were beautiful, and very popular, but few people could afford such things. Keep in mind that, before plastics, only rich people could afford to have poor taste.

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

New category Useful: Eight great travel-planning URLs

August 26th, 2005 · Comments Off on New category Useful: Eight great travel-planning URLs

Won’t you join me in a new blog category? Welcome to Useful. What task-related URLs are keeping you sane and productive? Hey, I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours!

1. If I need to be there by October 5, 2006, can I avoid flying on a weekend?
World clocks and calendars for many countries and multiple years.
2. How many sweaters do I need to pack?
World Climate: Weather rainfall and temperature data.
3. What kind of electric plugs do I need?
Electricity around the world: everything about plugs, sockets, voltages, convertors, etc.
4. If a hotel room costs 800 Swedish Kronor, what is that in dollars?
Universal currency converter.
5. Give me a quick overview of the sights of Boston/Barcelona/Barbados, etc.
Fodor’s miniguides to many destinations
6. What do some real people think about the hotels there?
Virtual Tourist’s amateur reviews of hotels.
7. Where can I ask some random travel questions?
Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum.
8. Last minute forecasts: Am I flying into a hurricane or a heat wave?
CNN weather, scroll down for clickable world map.

Tags: Useful

Rainbow connection…or not

August 26th, 2005 · Comments Off on Rainbow connection…or not

Inspired by David Weinberger’s lovely poem about “the modern embarassment of looking at a rainbow“:

Here’s a photo of a double rainbow by Robartes on Flickr.

And now for something unrelated: a giant trilobite in front of our fireplace.

This is all just a disjointed metapost to say that I’m back again from my not-very-wired summer.

Tags: Metablogging

Cover-up worth almost a million to RNC: Not national news?

August 13th, 2005 · Comments Off on Cover-up worth almost a million to RNC: Not national news?

What voting scandal has the Republican National Committee paid $722,000 (and counting) to keep under wraps? And how are they keeping it out of the national press?

RNC bigwig James Tobin (says
his Federal indictment) arranged for thousands of hang-up calls from a phone bank in Idaho, blocking Democrats’ efforts to give people rides to the polls and swinging a hotly contested 2002 Senate race to the Republican candidate.

If such dirty tricks aren’t official RNC policy, why is the RNC paying all Tobin’s legal fees?

Within days after Tobin’s indictment, RNC cash started paying for top DC lawyers to defend him. (Story here, or if that’s under firewall here.)

How can this blatant attempt to buy Tobin’s silence be a non-story?

How can the
Boston Globe treat it as a “New Hampshire” story. But wait–that most recent Boston Globe story fails completely to mention that the RNC was discovered (just ten days earlier) to be secretly funding Tobin’s full legal defense.

It also fails to mention that the Federal prosecutor (Todd Hinnen) who got Tobin indicted has been summarily pulled off the case.

This is real news, folks–please, won’t somebody cover it?

* The blocked phones were intended to provide rides to the polls for voters with no cars. A similar, non-partisan rides-to-the-polls line run by local firefighters was also jammed by the Republican effort.

On a related note, here’s a
pdf of multiple Republican tactics to disrupt the 2004 election by preventing people from voting including:

  • Failure to send out absentee ballots to Democrats
  • Allocating many more voting machines per capita to Republican districts, so that voters in Democratic districts had to wait in line up to 5 hours in order to vote
  • Misleading mailings to minority districts, saying for example that the date of the election had been changed to November 3

Tags: Editorial