Sunday, February 26, 2006

Things you can buy on the internet

Here's a fixer-upper for the boating enthusiast. This Soviet era "Whiskey" class submarine sports six torpedo tubes, a range of 15,000 miles, and accommodations for 56 persons. It's a bargain at $550,000. The advertisement claims the boat is ideal for "adventure tourism" or "active military service".

Oddly enough Marine Sales Inc. of Lutz Florida has currently de-listed the sub because of a "Lost Owner". Maybe he's away on an adventure tour.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Brandenburg Gate is missing

When I visited Berlin in 2001 I wanted to see all the famous sights, The Reichstag, Check Point Charlie, and of course, and the city's most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate. The gate was built for Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1791. When Napoleon captured Berlin in 1806, he stole the stature on top (it was returned). The Nazi's featured the gate in their propaganda. During the cold war, it marked the border between East Germany and West Germany.

When the city bus turned down Strasse des 17 Juni, I looked anxiously for the famous landmark. There is it! ... wait a minute ... It's gone!

Where the famous gate should have been was a giant billboard for"T Mobile". On the billboard was a picture of a weird "T" shaped sculpture that looked kind of like the gate.

When I walked up to it, I realized that underneath the billboard the gate was still there, but they had covered it up while doing renovations. Underneath the cover it was encased in scaffoldings and braces. "T Mobile" was sponsoring the repair, and had use the opportunity to get some advertising.

Over the months of repair, several different versions of the billboard were displayed. All the billboards showed the gate, but modified in some humorous way. This included giant bunny teeth, a heart, giant boots, crossed columns, and a drunken version with curved pillars.

My favorite shows the normal gate, but has the White House in the background. There was also a version with Eiffel tower in the background.

Sorry - you missed it. If you go today you'll just see the original 215 year old structure (boring). The renovations were completed in 2002.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

George Washington's golf clubs

Did George Washington play golf? This is a possibility that most historians have never dared consider. The game of golf was invented in 1670's , so it's entirely possible that he did. While walking the grounds of the North Carolina Capital in Raleigh, I discovered powerful evidence to support this claim.

Displayed on the south grounds is a statue of the first president leaning against an object that looks strangely like a golf bag. Close examination of the object is inconclusive because the top, where the club heads would be, is covered by some sort of folded material.

In the interest of objectivity, I must mention that there are other theories. First, the object is somewhat longer than a normal golf bag, and is too big to easily carry. This can be explained by the fact that Washington was taller than average, and the statue may have been sculpted posthumously. The artist may have had access to the actual clubs, but have assumed Washington was a man of normal stature. Additionally, being a wealthy slave-owning Virginia aristocrat, George would have had a caddy.

The other objection is that the "golf bag" is actually a fasces, a traditional Roman emblem of government. A fasces is a bundle of birch rods, usually bound together with an axe. Since no axe can be seen in this bundle, we are left with but one logical conclusion.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Extreme Hunters

The “Capital Natural Hunters Association”, do things like they did in the old days, the real old days - 300,000 years ago. Once a month a group of urban professionals dress in loin cloths and moccasins, and head for the wilderness. These modern cavemen are part of a growing movement known as “Natural Hunting”. The object of natural hunting is to live the primitive life, using only the most rudimentary forms of technology. The Natural Hunter’s credo is “if you can’t make it, don’t take it”. They only use things that they can manufacture themselves with primitive tools – skin, fiber, stone, wood, and bone.

Read the article HERE.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bumper Sticker

If I had a bumper sticker, it would be this one. Feel free to use it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Verminous Haiku

Out of kimono,
now there they go, up the wall.
I scratch. Maddening!

Woodcut by Toyokuni I, ca. 1810

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gas Guzzlers II

The real measure of fuel efficiency isn't MPG (miles/gallon), but the number of passenger miles/per gallon (PMPG). If a city bus gets 5 MPG, but carries up to 50 people, it gets 250 passenger miles/gallon. Not too bad!

At 5 MPG, the city bus uses twice the fuel as a the environmentalists nightmare -- the Hummer H2. We'd all agree, that the bus is more efficient in terms of PMPG. The Hummer can carry 5 passengers, for a maximum of 50 PMPG . In comparison, my Toyota Prius gets 50 MPG with just one passenger, or 250 PMPG fully loaded.

How about a stretch Hummer? With 20 passengers at 5 MPG, that's 100 PMPG, less than half the efficiency of a city bus, but not unreasonable. Why not a stretch Prius? Estimating 40 MPG with 11 passengers, that would be a whopping 440 PMPG!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Klingon Recipes by Mike Richardson-Bryan

Vegetarian Lasagna - SERVES 4-8

Invite a vegetarian over for tea. Politely inquire about his degenerate lifestyle in order to lull him into a false sense of security. When he lowers his guard, beat him to death with a sack of phone books.

Cook vegetarian over medium heat until brown. Remove from heat and stir in pasta sauce, onion, garlic powder, basil, and oregano. Return to low heat to simmer. Cook, drain, and rinse noodles. In a baking dish, layer in noodles, sauce, and cheese. Bake covered with foil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until top layer of cheese is bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve and enjoy.

* * *

I found it at Timothy McSweeney.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Hypnic Jerk

It's two in the afternoon and you've had a big lunch. The voices are droning, and you're warm, the chair is comfortable. Maybe you could close your eyes, just for a second, nobody would notice ...

Suddenly you're entire body twitches, and you sit upright, awake. How long was I asleep? Was I snoring?

What you've just experienced is the hypnic jerk, or a sleep start. It's a normal part of the sleep process. People commonly experience them when they're just falling asleep. For some people it's an electric shock, for others a falling sensation. More rarely it's experienced as a flash of light or a loud snapping sound from inside the head. For more information see the ominously named, but highly informative "Night Terror Resource Center".

If you're in bed the hypnic jerk is a comforting sign that you're departing happily into slumberland. If your're flying a commercial airliner, it's a good time to ask for a another cup of coffee.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Suppressed Technology

The Ford Motor Company had a solution to America's growing addiction to foreign oil way back in 1958. The Ford Nucleon really was the car of the future - instead of a gasoline engine, it was powered by a small nuclear reactor. Engineers predicted that it would have a range of 5000 miles between refueling stops.

For some reason the car never went into production. Perhaps it was suppressed by a vast conspiracy of multinational oil companies.
© 2008 Raoul Rubin