The Spook spammed all his friends with this, so I thought I’d pass it along: Somali Cruises.
“We sail up and down the coast of Somalia waiting to get hijacked by pirates. We encourage you to bring your ‘High powered weapons’ along on the cruise. If you don’t have weapons of your own, you can rent them on the boat.”
These isn’t a rusty robot graveyard, it’s the decoration above Cristina’s Restaurant in Frisco, where we went for our anniversary a couple of weeks ago. (For some reasons, those Mexican chain restaurants, all seem to be really big on rusty decorations.)
Today is the 35th Anniversary of the Watergate break-in, which lead to the downfall of President Nixon. These days, when government scandal and treachery are the normal way of life, it might seem strange that a news story about a bungled burglary could monopolize the news for two years and culminate in a constitutional crisis, but it did. It was the biggest news story for the entirety of my freshman year in college, which I must say made for some interesting Political Science classes.
I used to have this comedy album: National Lampoon’s The Missing White House Tapes. Side One was mostly audio from Nixon’s speeches recut to hilarious effect (“I was an active vice president … I had a … firm … staff … and I stuck it out!”) Side Two consists of comedy sketches which include Chevy Chase and John Belushi as performers, a couple of years before the world knew who they were.
“Watergate“, a school report in the form of an excellent short documentary, including present-day teenagers reenacting scenes from the time:
It’s good to see the kids having an appreciation for classic historical periods …
Next: You know the t-shirt I linked to above? It was a reference to this episode of Futurama:
Nixon’s back! Who’s kicking who around now?!
Next: Another Nixon appearance on Futurama — this time in Spanish!:
Next: The famous “I am not a crook” speech:
That was history in the making, right there! Personally, I thought the “There will be no whitewash … in the White House” speech was going to be much bigger than this one, but all these years later it’s nowhere on the cultural radar screen. Go figure.
Anna Nicole Smith: They keep saying on the news that her death was “shocking”.
Um … no. Surprising, maybe, since we didn’t know it would be that particular day, but as messed up as she was on a regular basis, it wasn’t really a shock to hear that one day she finally passed out and didn’t wake up.
And comparisons to the fate of Marilyn Monroe? Sure, if you take away the presidential connections, big Hollywood movies, marriage to a baseball superstar, a general sense of classiness, and probable Mob involvement in the mysterious circumstances of the death, then yeah, the two situations are almost exactly alike …
Hey, you know who’s probably glad to have the Anna Nicole story suddenly take over the news spotlight?
I think we have a winner for Wackiest Story of the Year …
And speaking of adults dressing up and doing wacky things: One of my co-workers passed out her wedding invitations today. I asked if the wedding date of March 17 was intentionally set for St. Patrick’s Day, she said, “Oh yeah, we’re having an Irish wedding!”
In fact, her husband-to-be will be wearing not a tux, but some elaborate pirate outfit (an Irish pirate, presumably), and the blushing bride will herself be decked out in ethno-anachronistic garb that will include a green cape, among other things.
Some other co-workers also began making plans to attend in costume, and I said, “Hey, good idea — I think I’ll go as a robot!”
And speaking of robots (but not of Texas women this time), today I overheard some managers talking to some vendors about putting some robots in our manufacturing area … but when I found out that they’re not the kind that say “Danger danger Will Robinson!” or “Bite my shiny metal ass!”, or much of anything at all, for that matter, I quickly lost interest …
He adds the comment, “Now we’re talking….bodies, gold, oil.”
And guns. Don’t forget guns.
2. I found out that one of my co-workers used to work in tech support (not computers, exactly, but computer-based machines like ATMs), so we traded stupid-user horror stories, then I told her about The IT Crowd, the British tech support sitcom, which I wrote about here earlier in the year — and which is now on YouTube. And since I looked up the links for her, I might as well post them here, so here’s Episodes One, Two, and Three.
3. I’ve just got to say Welcome to the people who keep arriving here by the dozens through my post Saturday night about the Morse Code in Sunday’s Foxtrot comic strip.
I went to the trouble of decoding the message, because every time I post the answer to something intriguing or puzzling (like the snowman riddle on Lost, or the “Shape of Things to Come” commercial for Target), especially in the comics (like the recent Get Fuzzy/Pearls Before Swine crossover, or Foxtrot’s “Sgt. Neelie” trick last year), there are always people searching for it, and I like seeing how many of them I can reel in.
I usually take my time reading new issues of Wired, to make the last all month, but as sick as I am, all bets are off.
The cover story is about Lego’s second generation of their Mindstorm project, and how they’re using hobbyists as the design team.
In case you’re not familiar: Mindstorms is Lego’s programmable robotics kit, first released in 1998. The core of the bot is a big yellow “brick”, which included an 8-bit processor that the users could program through line commands on their PC’s. The kits include touch and visual sensors.
The new models will have a sleeker brick (it’s closer to an iPod), 32-bit processors, and sensors for sound (for voice commands) and ultrasonic waves.
The big news, though, is that almost from the beginning of the original kit, the executives at Lego have proved that they’re smarter than the RIAA and MPAA combined: The Danish company has encouraged users to hack the software and help develop innovations.
Propietary systems are circling the drain; open-source development is the new viable business model.
The important thing is not who won the 132-mile race, but that three vehicles finished, and all but one got farther than the seven miles achieved by the best contestants in last year’s race.
In case you’re not familiar, all the cars in the race are unmanned: Not remote-controlled, but robotic. They have to make their way across the desert terrain with no post-starting-line help from their humans.
This is harder than it might sound, apparently, since every one of last year’s entrants got stuck, physically or navigationally.
This year, a lot of the kinks got worked out, and you can check out more than 300 pictures of the event on Flickr.
L’excuse du jour for not having posted yet today was not one but two trips to Sam’s Club (in case you’re not familiar, it’s one of those warehouse stores that sell olives by the gallon and toilet paper by the pallet).
The first trip involved taking The Wife, who fell in love with a Casio Privia keyboard — excuse me, electronic piano. So we finished shopping, then we came home and she looked up the product on the internet and determined that the Sam’s price was the best one, so I then drove back and bought the thing.
And let me tell you, it’s huge. And heavy. I had to take the keyboard and all the components out of the master shipper in order to fit it under my pickup bed cover; fortunately, each piece was in its own box, so nothing got scuffed up.
Anyway, we’ve spent the rest of the night just trying to get the stand put together.
Why is it that assemble-it-yourself furniture NEVER works out right? Everything we’ve ever put together had to have holes bored out, or connectors glued in, or screws substituted for the ones provided.
Shouldn’t we have robots that would do this for us by now?
Anyway: We finally got the stand up and the keyboard mounted on it, and it sounds sharp.
Plus, now I get full ownership of the keyboard she bought a couple of months ago; this should be fun …