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Tuesday, 30 June, 2009

Public Prayer Stations

In Michigan: Prayer booth under fire.

For those who have fallen victim to job loss, medical or financial problems and aren't sure where to turn, a religious group behind a spiritual booth at City Hall is recommending faith as an option.

"Our goal would be that we would saturate our city and Metro Detroit with prayer in a very visible way," said the Rev. Darius Walden, the senior pastor for The Tabernacle, a Church of God congregation. "It is a misconception that the church is a building. The church is people."

A more common misconception is that praying actually accomplishes anything.

The offer has been well-received by the 400 or so folks who have stopped by, but it's a concern to an atheist-agnostic group that's blasting Warren for allowing evangelists to set up shop inside a government building.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation said resident concerns over the booth -- located in the lobby of city offices and adorned with a banner that simply reads "Prayer Station" -- prompted the nonprofit to file a request for copies of city policy, its rental agreement with the church and verification it is being charged to use the space. The group is also criticizing the city's failure to disassociate itself from the religious message of the church.

Permalink | Posted in Religion @7:52pm | Comments (13)

Cat Gets Bat

Imagine that:

Permalink | Posted in General @6:57pm | Comments (32)

Ticketmaster Scum

They have a virtual monopoly, yet they still resort to scum tactics: Ticketmaster Pays $50,000 Fine, Closes More Than 100 Deceptive Sites.

Ticketmaster will pay a $50,000 fine and shutter more than 100 deceptive brokerage sites as part of a wide-reaching agreement with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Madigan's office accused Ticketmaster's always shady subsidy, TicketsNow, of creating sites that masqueraded as local venues selling tickets at face value. The settlement also requires TicketsNow to wait until after Ticketmaster puts non-sporting events on sale before hawking tickets at outrageously inflated prices...

This isn't the first time Ticketmaster has been pressured into abandoning questionable business practices. Back in February, Ticketmaster settled a complaint from New Jersey's Attorney General by agreeing to stop linking directly to TicketsNow. It just goes to show how many questionable practices Ticketmaster exploits.

Permalink | Posted in General @6:56pm | Comments (2)

Olecranon Bursitis

Anyone ever had Olecranon bursitis.

I've got it. It's a banjo-related injury. I got it from sitting in front of the computer for hour upon hour, playing banjo while resting my left elbow on the chair armrest. At least that's my theory.

This is not my elbow, but it kind of looks like it:

The chance of developing bursitis is higher if one's job or hobby involves a repetitive movement, for example, tennis, golf and even repetitive computer work involving leaning on your elbow are common causes of bursitis of the elbow. The possibility of developing the condition is more common as one gets older.

I'm hoping it will go away eventually. It's no fun getting old.

Permalink | Posted in General @6:50pm | Comments (17)

Shoe Songs

Here are the songs I have that contain the word shoe. That's shoe (singular), not shoes (plural).

  1. Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy - Red Foley
  2. Chattanooga Shoe-Shine Boy - Dan Hicks And The Hot Licks
  3. Full Half, Thanksgiving Morning, Old Brown Shoe - Hotpoint String Band
  4. If The Shoe Fits - Leon Russell
  5. Scherzo For An Old Shoe - Charlie Byrd
  6. Stone In My Shoe - Frank Cotolo
  7. Under My Shoe - Midtown Dickens
  8. Walk Old Shoe Hell Come a-Draggin - Volo Bogtrotters
  9. Walk Old Shoe - Cathy Moore
  10. Who's Gonna Shoe - Abigail Washburn
  11. Who's Gonna Shoe - Uncle Earl
  12. Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot? - Frank Bode, Paul Brown, Tommy Jarrell
  13. Who's it Gonna Shoe? - Abigail Washburn & Ben Sollee

Permalink | Posted in Music Lists @5:43pm | Comments (15)

How To Prevent Bribes

One approach: Nepal bans airline staff pockets.

Staff at Nepal's main international airport are to be issued with trousers without pockets, in an attempt to wipe out rampant bribe-taking.

The country's anti-corruption body said there had been growing complaints about staff at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan airport.

A spokesman said trousers without pockets would help the authorities "curb the irregularities".

Permalink | Posted in General @5:08pm | Comments (6)

Bisbo’s Full Length Train Movie

For those who enjoyed the teaser, here's the full-length director's cut.

Permalink | Posted in General @5:05pm | Comments (16)

Advances In Ugly Watches

Would anyone actually pay for something this ugly? Carl F. Bucherer Alacria Royal Limited Edition.

These are not likely to be the most expensive quartz movement based watches out there, but they are up there. Priced between about $112,000 to $215,000 these jewelry watches for women don't even have fine mechanical movements. To a degree this makes sense given their small stature and life in a jewelry box or safe unless taken out for special occasions, but for me this is in contradiction to what haute horology is about today.

Oh, it's haute horology. OK then.

Permalink | Posted in Products @5:03pm | Comments (5)

Free Range Children

Roger Ebert on Raising free-range kids.

I wrote recently about my childhood growing up in Downstate Illinois. I mentioned me and my friends roaming all over town on our bikes, walking to the movies and the swimming pool on our own, and riding our bikes through rain water backed up after thunderstorms. Also, for that matter, through piles of burning leaves. One of my classmates wrote to mention that the Boneyard, the creek running through town, was a drainage canal. "What?" I asked. "Where we caught crawdaddies?

Another reader sent me a link to a web site advocating the raising of Free Range Children. I learned this has become something of a movement, cheered by a book by Lenore Skenazy. The movement believes we are punishing our kids by over-protecting them.

Certainly today we take for granted things that we never imagined in our own childhoods, like child car seats, bike helmets, bottled water, security guards, sunblock, hand sanitizer and childproof bottles.

Permalink | Posted in General @11:04am | Comments (48)

Write A Cartoon Caption

Dean's Comic Booth has a slick little widget that lets you add a caption to a cartoon. It debuts today: Cap'n Caption #1.

Permalink | Posted in Interactive @10:57am | Comments (0)

Dancing Bellboy

Found at Kitchen Retro, the toy sensation of 1951.

Is it just me, or does that bellboy look exactly like Michael Jackson?

Permalink | Posted in General @10:54am | Comments (1)

Cheap Fire Alarm

Found at There, I Fixed It.

When you hear a popping sound, get out of the house!

Permalink | Posted in Humor @7:32am | Comments (3)

Monsoon Season

Tucson has five seasons: Spring, Dry Summer, Monsoon Summer, Fall, and Winter.

What is Monsoon Summer?

We enter the monsoon period officially after 3 consecutive days with daily mean surface dew points of 55 degrees F or greater. The increase in dew point occurs when the prevailing winds shift from westerly to southeasterly, bringing more moisture in from the Gulf of California (mostly) and Gulf of Mexico. Days often begin clear and very warm, but as the heat of the day builds, huge clouds build and tower above, cooling the temperatures somewhat (but increasing relative humidity) and often dumping huge quantities of rain in a very short time. This is the time of wind and dust, flashfloods and lightening.

This chart from the National Weather Service indicates that we've had three consecutive days with the dewpoint above 54. No heavy rain yet, but it could happen any day now.

Permalink | Posted in General @7:30am | Comments (6)

Clawhammer Confusion

Image found at Banjo Mafia:

Permalink | Posted in Banjo @7:25am | Comments (5)

Life Saver Sparks

The Straight Dope resurrects a 25-year old question: Why do wintergreen Life Savers spark when crunched?

Most students of the modern Life Saver classify sparking as a type of triboluminescence, which occurs when something is crushed or torn, the something in this case being the hard crystalline sugar that Life Savers contain...

Wintergreen sparking, it's believed, is actually a three-step process.

  1. When you shatter the sugar crystals with your teeth, electrons (which are negatively charged) break free. As a result, the atoms in which the electrons were formerly embedded become positively charged. In what amounts to a subatomic game of musical chairs, the free electrons dash around madly trying to find a new home.
  2. Meanwhile, as the sugar crystals disintegrate, nitrogen molecules from the air attach themselves to the fractured surfaces. When the free electrons strike the nitrogen molecules, they cause the latter to emit invisible ultraviolet radiation, along with a faint visible glow.
  3. The UV radiation is absorbed by the wintergreen flavoring, methyl salicylate. This then emits the fairly bright blue light you see. Pretty complicated, I admit. Clearly the planners in the Pentagon weren't the first to be obsessed with high-tech gimcracks.

Permalink | Posted in Food & Drink @7:23am | Comments (5)

Coffee Stain Jesus

A miracle in New York: Grounds for hope in a stained coffee mug.

Jerry Stolfi houses Jesus above his kitchen's stovetop exhaust fan, inside a drab brown cupboard he calls a shrine. "I hope he doesn't get lonely in there, you know?" says Stolfi, 49.

"He" is the coffee stain, on a mason jar drinking mug, in which Stolfi sees a bearded image of Jesus Christ bearing a crown of thorns. The image, smaller than a square inch, appeared to him April 29, after he had finished drinking coffee from the jar, which bears the residue of dried coffee and cream.

"It doesn't smell, though, and I will never be washing it," he said.

Stoli has always been religious:

Since childhood, Stolfi, a former altar boy, had prayed at night in his bedroom and after waking up. Now he clasps his hands and prays before the image in his dimly lit Ravena apartment, where the smell of his cats overpowers the modest rooms.

Permalink | Posted in Religion @7:18am | Comments (6)

Boy Trades iPod For Walkman

It's like going back in time: Giving up my iPod for a Walkman.

When the Sony Walkman was launched, 30 years ago this week, it started a revolution in portable music. But how does it compare with its digital successors? The Magazine invited 13-year-old Scott Campbell to swap his iPod for a Walkman for a week.

A few observations:

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

And one positive point:

The Walkman actually has two headphone sockets, labelled A and B, meaning the little music that I have, I can share with friends. To plug two pairs of headphones in to an iPod, you have to buy a special adapter.

Permalink | Posted in General @7:13am | Comments (9)

Glastonbury Photos

Photos from Glastonbury 2009.

Over the weekend, approximately 190,000 people made their way to Worthy Farm in western England to attend the 2009 Glastonbury Festival. Attendees came to see performances at what is billed as "Europe's largest open-air music festival" on many stages over four days - headliners included Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and a reunited Blur. Rainy weather did little to dampen the mood, as attendees enjoyed themselves in tent cities, concert performances, dance tents, and the surrounding countryside of Somerset, England.

Permalink | Posted in Visual Arts @7:07am | Comments (5)

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