30 January 2008

For Star Wars geeks only

funny pictures

- Icanhascheezburger.com

Nailing crazy people in boxes a good thing, apparently

'CHUNGJU, South Korea (AP) -- After solemnly reading their wills, seven perfectly healthy university students climb into caskets in a dimly lit hall.

"I want to give all of you one more day to live, but it's time to be placed into coffins," a man in a black suit says in a resounding voice. "I hope your tired flesh and bodies will be peacefully put to rest."

Workers nail the coffins shut, then sprinkle dirt on top as the lights are switched off and a dirge is played. Muffled sobs can be heard from some of the coffins. About 15 minutes later, they are opened and the five men and two women are "reborn."

The mock funeral, which aims to get participants to map out a better future by reflecting on their past, is part of a new trend in South Korea called "well-dying." The fad is an extension of "well-being," an English phrase adopted into Korean to describe a growing interest in leading healthier, happier lives'
- CNN, 13 January 2008

How very German

'A German travel agent has come up with the ultimate in no-frills flying - a charter flight for passengers who want to fly naked. Naturist holidays are particularly popular among east Germans, who like nothing better than to stretch out on a beach in the nude. "The flight can be enjoyed as God intended," said OssiUrlaub, a company specialising in selling to holidaymakers from the former east. "For the first time, passengers in Germany can fly completely in the nude"'
- 'Nudist flights ready for take-off', Guardian, 30 January 2008
[You will be relieved to note that 'pilots and cabin crew will remain clothed "for security reasons"']

28 January 2008

White men can't dance

'I would have to, you know, investigate more of Bill's dancing abilities, you know, and some of this other stuff before I accurately judge whether he was in fact a brother'
- Barack Obama in a South Carolina debate, questioning Bill Clinton's status as 'the first black president'

[Source: Economist, 26 January 2008]

No bargain for a true Scot

'Never mind that the shirt has an unpleasant echo of early Spandau Ballet, the kilt simply doesn't have the import it would if it costs what it should rather than what it can be made for in a cut-price factory somewhere.  Putting it on, you get no feeling of the heritage of the outfit, no sense of its significance.  Instead, you're overwhelmed with the unpleasant sensation that you're all set to head out on a stag night.  In Reading'

- Gareth McLean tries on discount retailer Lidl's £24.99 kilt, Guardian, 28 January 2008
[A kilt normally costs 'upwards of £375', the article says, in case you were wondering]

27 January 2008

How academics justify their air travel

'How do we reduce our contradictions or, better yet, our carbon emissions? The solutions are obvious, which is why no one wants to talk about them. They would require sacrifice, or at least a new way of thinking about and conducting our professional lives. Bring up the issue among a gathering of scholars and you will get something like the following responses:

- I know that flying is an environmental problem, but travel is essential to my work (and I really like San Francisco in the fall);

- My research is a collaborative enterprise. I need to discuss it with colleagues face-to-face (over wine and cheese);

- The importance of my research outweighs the environmental costs of air travel'

Chronicle of Higher Education, 25 January 2008

[Source: A&L Daily]

24 January 2008

Rock Song Takes Pro-Rock Stance

LOS ANGELES — A fist-pumping spokesperson for the rock and roll song "Rock You" declared the new track's unwavering pro-rock stance Monday amid a deluge of blistering guitar solos and monster drum fills. "In addition to its steadfast pledge to rock you into the night, 'Rock You' also intends to rock at least until the morning light, and does not care what any authority figures may say at this time," public relations associate Mark Boudreaux said. "Furthermore, rock and roll is here to stay." Boudreaux added that lame asses, poseurs, and mama's boys opposed to the song's militant pro-rock agenda could face a long, uphill battle if the song's prediction that rock will never die proves true.

- The Onion

Not the ideal getaway vehicle

Wheelchair driver can't whine

By Peter Hardwick

OAKEY woman Darlene Peggy Bayliss blew a breath/alcohol reading more than five times the legal limit while driving a motorised wheelchair. And the wheelchair wasn't even hers, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard yesterday.

Toowoomba police, acting on a complaint of a drunken woman driving a wheelchair on Campbell Street, Mort Estate, on December 30, were told Bayliss had driven away on the wheelchair without the owner's consent.

Found in nearby Gowrie Street, the 36-year-old was still on the wheelchair with the keys in the ignition and a cask of wine in a basket on the front of the vehicle, police prosecutor Sergeant Greg Lewis told the court.

- Toowoomba Chronicle, 25 January 2008

Lucy Porter

The perky and charmingly subversive (in a cute way) comedienne du jour Lucy Porter at the Comedy Store, on hen & stag nights, life in London's suburbs, kids' street-talk, ethical shopping and the shame of buying extra-large packs of toilet rolls.

[Length: 6:29. Note: contains a bit of swearing, so probably refrain from playing it loudly at work]

News: social networking officially uncool

...since parents (and grandparents!) learned how to add their kids as contacts.

'Parents crashing online party', CNN, 23 January 2008

Bear Rescue!

How do you save a fully-grown brown bear trapped underneath a high bridge span? Answer: very carefully.

Bear on a bridge

Memento cursor game

At first this minimalist little game seems all too simple. But soon all is revealed and the task becomes far more interesting, and even a bit conceptual. Am I playing a game now?


We laugh at your defamatory statement ha-ha!

In the funniest and most memorable moment of his tenure as host so far, 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' host Simon Amstell renders his guests speechless with his unplanned snipe at Courtney Love's expense - cue BBC legal department flying to the rescue, ta-dah!

[For a backstage glimpse at a Buzzcocks recording, peruse this amusing article by Peter Robinson of the Guardian, which illustrates the level of inappropriateness (and again, defamation) required to get an Amstell joke omitted from the episode. The Corrs, it's your lucky day!]

If you happen to have a hundred students

Then why not dress them in coloured t-shirts and put them to good use replicating classic arcade games using stop motion filmography? Check out these brilliant examples to give you a few ideas for starters:

Human Tetris

Human Space Invaders

Human Pong

Human Pole Position

The flashlights in the Pole Position one are an especially nice touch.

[Courtesy of Matthew]

21 January 2008

His master's voice

"It got every sixth word wrong, which meant you'd swear in exasperation, and it would think you had finished each sentence by saying, 'Offer fox ache', and type that in too."
- Charlie Brooker describes using a new voice recognition package, Guardian, 21 January 2008

The Man tells it to The Kids

Finally, the Herald focuses on the social issue that everyone agrees is the most pressing concern facing New Zealand today... banning under-18s from using sunbeds.  Has there been an epidemic of orange-skinned teenagers afflicting the sunny streets of Auckland and falling foul of the middle-aged style police?  Or perhaps the Herald didn't have much actual news to write about today. 
- 'Editorial: Ban sunbed tanning for under-18s', New Zealand Herald, 21 January 2008

18 January 2008

A slight faux pas

Jeremy Paxman (University Challenge question-master): What is another name for 'cherrypickers' and 'cheesemongers'? 
Contestant:  Homosexuals. 
Paxman: No. They're regiments in the British Army who will be very upset with you. 
- Private Eye
[Courtesy of FSC.  The Cherrypickers is a nickname of the 11th Hussars, and the Life Guards are known, among other things, as The Cheesemongers]   

17 January 2008

Cutting out the middle man

From a Q&A article on Scientology:
'So is it a cult?
Scientologists vehemently deny this. In the United States the Cult Awareness Network, which was for 20 years America's best-known source of information and advice on religious cults, thought so. But the Scientologists took so many legal cases against it that legal fees forced the Network into bankruptcy. Whereupon the rights to its name, logo and hotline number were bought by a Scientologist who continued the organisation, but now staffed by Scientologists'
- Independent, 17 January 2008

15 January 2008

It always needed more balalaika

Catch this stirring open-air performance from 1993 of the Leningrad Cowboys (of Leningrad Cowboys Go America 'fame') singing Tom Jones' 'Delilah' accompanied by the full 'la-la'-ing power of the Alexandrov Red Army Choir as backing vocalists.  The later collapse of the USSR may well have been hastened by the economic strain imposed by the Cowboys' frankly enormous hair gel requirements.

Delilah (4:17)

[Courtesy of Courtney. For more footage of this famous Helsinki gig see the film Total Balalaika Show]

A clear case of cause and effect

'A wildcat had come into his house and attacked his wife quite ferociously'

- A lawyer for South Norfolk councillor Keith Tilcock, explaining why his client was drunk and urinating in the grounds of Norwich hospital [Source: Private Eye, 11 January 2008]

10 January 2008

How scientists acquire wives

'When [Ludwig] Prandtl found himself nearing the age of forty, he decided he should get married but didn't know how to go about finding a wife, and finally hit upon the solution of writing to the wife of his former professor and asking for the hand of one of her daughters. He did not specify which one. The family decided that the older daughter, in her late twenties, would be the best match, and by all accounts it was a successful marriage'

- Stephen Budiansky, 'Air Power', 2004, on German aerodynamics pioneer Ludwig Prandtl

08 January 2008

The #1 issue for US voters

Yes, you guessed it - it's meaningless bullshit. The Onion News Network gets to the bottom of this enduring electoral phenomenon, and examines how bullshit and bullshit-related campaigning might affect the ongoing race to secure the Republican and Democratic Party nominations in 2008.

Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters

You have a point there, Eric

'Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt yesterday said he had no desire to be in Parliament - despite a history of failed candidacies and mixing it with Beehive heavies over tertiary education funding last month.
Invercargill National MP Eric Roy said he had already been confirmed, unopposed, as the National Party candidate for Invercargill at this year's general election. Mr Shadbolt obviously felt he had the mandate to fight for SIT, as the council had put about $2 million into the zero-fees scheme -- and had not talked to him about any wider political ambitions, he said. Mr Shadbolt would probably not be pursued by National to be on its party list, Mr Roy said.

"There's probably a good representation of white, middle-class caucasian males on the National Party list," he said'

- Southland Times, 8 January 2007

["Beehive heavies"?  Sheesh.  I don't think anyone has actually threatened to strike Mr Shadbolt forcefully on the back of the head with a blackjack.  (Yet)] 

07 January 2008

Unlikely comparison of the week

'It is easy to see why Romney would see some aspects of his Mormon identity as an asset. In the elite East Coast worlds where Romney has made his career, Mormonism signifies personal rectitude, professional competence and an idiosyncratic-but-impressive rejection of alcohol and caffeine. If anything, the systematic overrepresentation of Mormons among top businesspeople and lawyers affords LDS affiliation a certain cachet — rather like being Jewish, but taller'
- New York Times, 6 January 2007, on Republican US presidential nominee candidate Mitt Romney's Mormonism

04 January 2008

On Victoria Beckham's true talent

'Each Girl got a solo spotlight where they performed a hit from their years exiled from Spice World, with the notable exception of Posh, who in lieu of performing a song from her surprisingly adequate yet shelved solo album simply took her alone time to walk down the stage catwalk in a fabulous gown while talking on her cell phone. It was the most honest assessment of a performer's true talent I've ever had the fortune to witness, and the crowd absolutely ate it up. Maybe it's because of her constant media exposure or the fact that Los Angeles is her new adopted hometown, but human clothes-hanger Victoria got the loudest and most consistent crowd reactions during the entire show. Add it to the list of mankind's mysteries, right next to what killed the dinosaurs'

The striking illiteracy of Anna Nicole Smith

In this old post from The Smoking Gun, court records point out that:

Vickie [i.e. Anna Nicole] appeared before the Court [in 2002] to testify for three days. Her communication skills were poor as she frequently had trouble engaging counsel. Her illiteracy is striking. Examples are too numerous to chronicle but include writing "25.00" meaning $2500 and "4500,00" meaning $4500 - she testified that she has trouble with zeroes.

Okay, I guess by quoting that selectively I'm being mean to a dead person who never made any claim to intellectual status. But the court records (link below) are worth a read to remind yourself what went on with her ancient multi-millionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall before the whole melodramatic and unfortunate end to her life. As the court ruling points out, 'While Vickie certainly drew a more noble image of herself than the facts bear out, her testimony on the statements made by J. Howard are credible'.

And let's not forget she was an award-winning actress too... well, okay, she won Worst New Actress for one of the Naked Gun films at the 1995 Razzies. At least she was well cast as a statuesque bombshell in The Hudsucker Proxy, so she could claim the indie chic associated with appearing in a Coen Brothers film.

- The Smoking Gun, 8 February 2007


The Christian residents of Reeves, Louisiana, have successfully petitioned to have their three-digit telephone prefix changed from '666' to the less fire-and-brimstone-y '749'.

Mayor Scott Walker said CenturyTel's decision was "divine intervention". However, he admitted it helped that Louisiana's two senators had also lobbied for the change with the phone company and the state Public Service Commission. "It's been a black eye for our town, a stigma," he said. "I don't think it's anything bad on us, just an image," he added. "We're good Christian people."

Did no-one tell them Hitler's number was 749 though? (Well, it might be - you never know. This is how entertaining internet rumours start).

- BBC News, 29 December 2007

[Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia: the fear of the number 666]

03 January 2008

Credit where credit's due

'All of the 265 cabin passengers felt that it was in some way to their credit', the American journalist Richard Harding Davis wrote in Harper's Weekly, 'that the boat on which they chanced to cross [the Atlantic] beat the record, as individuals seem to feel they are deserving of your admiration because they have not slept for two nights...  As the writer of this article was one of the 265, he feels this pride, and though possibly had he been left at Liverpool the City of Paris might still have done as well, he wants the fact that she did so well, and that he was on board when she did it, generally circulated through the medium of this paper'
- On the record-breaking Liverpool to New York passage in 1892 - just under five days and 16 hours - of the steamship City of Paris. Quoted in 'The Ocean Railway' by Stephen Fox, 2003 

02 January 2008

Smarter than your average postcard

"O stalwart Sussex postman, who is
Delivering the post from Lewes,
Cycle apace to Charlton Firle
While knitting at your plain and purl
Deliver there to good Clive Bell
(You know the man, you know him well
He plays the virginals and spinet)
This note - there's... nothing in it."
- TS Eliot's postcard to Clive Bell, 6 January 1948 (quoted in The Times, 27 June 2007)

01 January 2008

Are Tauren a Republican demographic?

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is reputedly staging a political march tonight inside the online RPG World of Warcraft in support of his campaign. Sounds like he's setting himself up for a Democrat - oops, I mean Alliance - raid if you ask me.

- Joystiq.com, 30 December 2007

Underarm tactics

I know this has been done to death over the years, but while I've seen the ill-fated final delivery of the Australia vs NZ one-dayer at the MCG on 1 February 1981 and Brian McKechnie's disgusted flinging of his bat on TV before, I've never actually watched the whole over. This full Channel 9 clip has the delivery itself at 4:50 but the whole thing is worth watching, particularly for the unequivocal summary by Richie Benaud at the end.