Spin of the century ...

blog-070908The blogosphere erupted this week with news of John McCain's announcement of Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin as his running mate and even more splashy tales of Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy.

Hurricane Palin far outstripped the ratings of Gustav, which fizzled out midweek and was downgraded to a tropical storm, even though New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had called it "the storm of the century" and had ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city.

Controversy arose this week over a last minute overhaul of Sarah Palin's biography on Wikipedia by a mystery user called Young Trigg  just hours  before McCain made the announcement, which prompted Wikipedia admin to post the following note on her page:  

"This page is currently protected from editing until September 8, 2008 or until disputes have been resolved.
This protection is not an endorsement of the current version".

Since Wikipedia keeps an open log of edits to its articles, it is possible to track the changes made to Palin's entry. Additions include a reference to her "eye-popping integrity" and to the nickname, Sarah Barracuda, which she earned because of her "intense play" for her high school basketball team. As if that is not scary enough, "Young Trigg",  who made it clear on his/her user page that he/she was "not Sarah Palin" or " a member of Sarah Palin’s family, or even Michael Palin’s family",  felt he/she should also mention that Palin and her father "would sometimes wake at 3am to hunt  moose before school". Young Trigg has since retired from being an active Wikipedia user.

... or storm in a teacup?
While the Republican campaign has accused the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama of being too much of a celebrity, one celebrity has decided to gat political on the Palin pregnancy saga. Lindsay Lohan, herself no stranger to the slings and arrows of the paparazzi, recommends that Sarah Palin stop harping on about the fact that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant. On her MySpace page, Lohan says: "It's distracting from the real issues, the real everyday problems that this country experiences ... I get Sarah Palin's views against abortion, but I would much prefer to hear more about what she can do for our country rather than how her daughter is going to have a child no matter what."

Rumour has it

blog1-021108According to a post on urban legend website snopes.com, a clip from a Bob Hope movie compares democrats with zombies. The clip is taken from the 1940 film The Ghostbreakers, Starring Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard and Richard Carlson,  wherein, according to the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) "a radio broadcaster, his quaking manservant and an heiress investigate the mystery of a haunted castle in Cuba".

The dialogue goes like this:

Hope: You live here?
Carlson: Yes.
Hope: Well maybe you know what a zombie is.
Carlson: When a person dies and is buried, seems a certain voodoo priest has the power to bring him back to life.
Goddard: Horrible!
Carlson: It's worse than horrible because the zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes walking around blindly, with dead eyes. Following orders. Not  knowing what they do. Not caring.
Hope: You mean like democrats?blog2-021108

"Wax" wanes

Some time last week, Wax in the city vacated the lofty 1200m² premises which they occupied on the 8th floor of Sandton City's Office Towers. All that remains of the upmarket beauty salon is its opulently designed website, where you can read all about the now-defunct bunch of depilatory wielding, highly-trained "Waxarellas" who once were privy to Johannesburg's most famous bottoms and other bits.

Members of the exclusive dehairing club, it seems, were not only relieved of unwanted hair; they had to fork out R6000 up front for the luxury of being waxed, polished, spray painted, tinted, plucked and clipped for a year.

A couple of months before Wax and the City liquidated (or melted?) they embarked on an aggressive telemarketing recruiting exercise to beef up their membership of around 1400. Then they folded.

According to a complaint posted on the Hellopeter website, members were told via a "lame SMS" that "Wax" had shut its doors due to financial constraints. Others complained of appointments that were difficult to obtain in the first place and then not kept, staff that bitched to the clientele about management and "bruising and burning"  during treatments. Another says simply: WAX IN THE CITY WAS THE BIGGEST *** EVER.


Newspapers are going away. That’s too bad.blog2-191008








Criggo (criggo.wordpress.com)  posts scans of funny things found in newspapers:






Real Obama?
According to Fafblog, fafnir is a "part-time biped and freelance astronaut" who first got into politics through the vegetable rights movement. He and his sidekick Giblets,  a "simple anthropomorphic potato", compiled this list of Obama "facts" to enlighten the US electorate:

Barack Obama has been friends with Rashid Khalidi, an openly Arab Arab who is so Arab he writes about other Arabs. Is Barack Obama part of the international Arab conspiracy to trick white people into thinking about Arabs? Answer: also maybe.

Barack Obama and sixties radical Bill Ayers were both associated with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a radical education foundation whose radical goal is to radically educate black children by educating them ... while they are still black.

Barack Obama talks about his white mother and his white grandparents and the white half of his family that is white, but did you know that half of his family is also black? In fact, half his family is so black that Obama keeps them hidden away on a whole other continent where they speak in a strange, otherworldly code which is not even English. What is Obama trying to hide? Possibly something black. BONUS FACT! Barack Obama may be half-white and half-black, but he married a woman who is completely black. In a way, doesn't that make him three-quarters black? Math doesn't lie, people!

"Obama" is an ancient Muslim name meaning "He Who Deceives the White Man with his Telegenic Charisma, Angular Good Looks, and Deceptively Conservative Policy Proposals." Coincidence? Or co-bama?


Remember Rabbit Hole Day

January 27th marks the fifth annual Rabbit Hole Day. On this day, bloggers, Alice-like, have licence to forget all rules and preconceptions and produce blogs which are a departure from their usual style. Livejournaller Crisper suggests pretending that you have entered a dream dimension which might see you commenting on George Bush's new career as a pro-circuit tap-dancer or a conversation with your dog, who has miraculously acquired the power of speech: " Let's have a day where nobody's life makes sense anymore, where any random LJ (Live Journal) you click on will bring you some strange new tale. Let's all fall down the Rabbit Hole for 24 hours and see what's there. It will be beautiful."blog3-180109

Teen's Textapade

I freely admit that I belong to a generation that finds the composition of text messages awkward and am envious of the way my 16-year-old daughter bounces her fingers around those tiny buttons to produce readable SMS's. But even she would find it difficult to achieve what 13-year-old Reina Hardesty did. The teen, from Silverado Canyon, California, managed to send 14,528 text messages in one month. That's an average of 484 a day! Her father discovered Reina's talent for texting  when he received a 440-page cell phone bill last month. Fortunately for him, his contract allowed for unlimited SMS's at a flat rate.


Buy your Zim dollars on eBay

blog1-180109According to wafaz75 on Zimbabwe issues website www.zimbio.com, there's a new way to make money in Zimbabwe. Instead of using your Zim dollars to buy the things you need, you can sell the hyper-inflated currency on eBay for hundreds of times its real value. As a novelty item, one of these near worthless bits of paper fetches around ten US dollars. The new 10 million dollar note released by the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank (not quite enough to buy you a hamburger in Harare) is worth about 80 US cents.


blog1-250109Err on the side of caution

According to White House counsel Greg Craig Barack Obama retook the oath of office "out of an abundance of caution" because of the bungle made during the ceremony on Tuesday when Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts said "I will execute the office to President of the United States faithfully" instead of "I will faithfully execute".

O Generation: On wordspy.com the  word for "the generation of people approximately 18 to 35 years old who voted for or supported Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election".

End of an Errorblog2-250109

Creator of Electric Sheep Comix, Patrick Farley on Bush leaving the White House: "Trying to explain what was wrong with the Bush Era feels like trying to vomit up a cannonball. I don't think my jaw can stretch that wide".

Boing boing blogger Xeni Jardin: "I suspect the next four years won't quite live up to the massive, collective, candy-colored orgasm of hope we experienced today. But progress, not perfection, is enough for me right now."

First black president

Like Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela was also the first black president of his country. His inaugural speech also contained a message of individual realisation: "Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves."

Surviving the recession

Some of T-Bucket's tips for survival in a recession

Don't pout. Make survival an adventure
Oatmeal instead of boxed cereals.
Dump the gym membership. Last time my membership expired they had to give me directions to the gym so I could renew.
It's a great time to diet, and no one will know you're really just plain ol' starving
Announce that you're "going to let your hair grow out" and save on haircuts for a few months
Check out the kid's menus at your fast food place
Whoever stays with you won't be doing it for your money.
Beans are more than just a "musical fruit". Beans have been helping poor people survive for centuries.

(summarised and censored, open.salon.com)

The real cost of the Bush administration
Salon.com writers Vincent Rossmeier and Gabriel Winant assess the damage done during George W. Bush's tenure as President in W. and the damage done. Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow has summarised the numbers:

$900 billion
Expected shortfall of gross domestic product below normal growth path for 2009
Percentage decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from its decade high
3.78 million
Number of manufacturing jobs lost since 2000
4 million
Increase in number of unemployed workers since 2001
$350 billion
Cost of finance industry bailout
$17.4 billion
Cost of auto industry bailout
$10.6 trillion
National debt

A light matter

An EU ban on traditional incandescent lamps has prompted a frenzy of panic-buying among the British population as they seek to buy up every last one of the iconic energy-guzzlers before they disappear altogether in 2012. This month the British government began a “voluntary phase out” of 100 watt light bulbs ahead of the EU ban in September. It claims that the move will reduce carbon emissions in the UK by about five million tonnes a year.


Poster created by the United States Fuel Administration as part of a wartime effort to conserve coal reserves
Coles Phillips, 1917, Library of Congress website (memory.loc.gov)

10 Things

10 things that will happen in 2009
January 1: Norway to legalise same-sex marriage
January 20: Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States
January 26: Annular eclipse and start of the Chinese New Year
February 12: Darwin Day, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.
February 14: Lithuania to celebrate the millennium of its name
April 2-5: The 100 Hours of Astronomy begins. 2009 has been named the International Year of Astronomy. It coincides with the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observations with a telescope by Galileo Galilei and the publication of Johannes Kepler's Astronomia nova in the 17th century. 2009 is also the International Year of Natural Fibres.
June 14-28: The FIFA Confederations Cup to be held in South Africa. It is considered to be a dress-rehearsal for the World Cup.
July 22: Total solar eclipse. The longest lasting total solar eclipse of the 21st century. It will be visible through northern India, eastern Nepal, northern Bangladesh, Bhutan, the northern tip of Myanmar, central China and the Pacific Ocean. It is the longest total solar eclipse that will occur in the twenty-first century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132. Visit NASA's eclipse website at eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov
October 2: The host city of 2016 Summer Olympics to be announced at the 121st Session of the International Olympic Committee to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark.
December 31: The deadline for implementation of the controversial United States legislation REAL ID Act.The Act is a rider to an act of the United States Congress titled Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005.blog2-040109

10 most popular New Year's resolutions
1.     Spend more time with family and friends
2.     Get fit
3.     Lose weight
4.     Stop smoking
5.     Enjoy life more
6.     Quit drinking
7.     Get out of debt
8.     Learn something new
9.     Help others
10.   Get organised

Fan Death

According to snopes.com, collector of urban and other legends, many South Koreans believe that sleeping with an electric fan left running all night can result in death. The myth is so rampant in Korean society, that it is not unusual for the media to cite "fan death" as the most logical reason for an otherwise healthy person's demise. Korean fan  manufacturer Shinil Industrial Co. issues warnings with each of its fans, stating that they should be directed away from people at night since they "may cause suffocation or hypothermia" and many Korean fans are equipped with timers which switch them off automatically after a certain period of time. It is speculated that the rumour may have begun in the 1970's when South Korea was struggling with higher energy prices, and the government wanted to prevent people from using too much electricity.

A million people from space

blog010209See the little heaps of sand piled between the Capitol steps and the white obelisk of Washington Monument? Those are the million people who gathered in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2009, to witness and celebrate the inauguration of the forty-fourth president of the United States. The less orderly heaps, which are strung across the expanse of the National Mall, are satellite crowds who were able to view the inauguration on outsize television screens. The image was captured by GeoEye satellite technology and was NASA's  Earth Observatory Image of the Day on the 22nd of January.

Pimp my M&M

If you don't want to risk an entire cake going wrong, why not order M&Ms printed with a photograph or a message. This online service is available at mymms.com and comes with an interesting list of no-no's:

• Don't use objectionable words and phrases. No obscenities or inappropriate images. We don't want to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth.

• Custom Printed MY M&M'S® are for personal use only. That means no images or names that belong to a business, product, celebrity, specific sports teams, major events, landmarks, or schools or institutions.

• To avoid any confusion and keep everyone safe, we will not print any reference to drugs or prescription items, especially those that are in pill or capsule form.



The cake in this picture was constructed when a company's employees wanted to surprise their boss with a birthday cake emblazoned with an image of him swinging a golf club. They handed a flash drive to an assistant at the bakery concerned with instructions to copy one of the items on the drive onto a cake. Unfortunately, there was a breakdown in communication somewhere along the line.

How virtual can you get?

I was convinced that I had stumbled on something new when, while fantasising about how nice it would be to have someone to take charge of all the unfinished and unbegun tasks in my life (like applying for a place in high school for my son and booking for my daughters learner's licence) I dreamt up the idea of a virtual personal assistant. The virtual PA would be an ever-present (but remote) source of help who would sit on the phone on my behalf, patiently waaiting through hours of horrid jingles and automated options for a real person to be heard on the other end. So I googled virtual PA just to make sure that my idea was unique. Turns out it was un-unique in the extreme: virtual PAs have been around for at least five years. South Africa's virtualpa.co.za, virtualpaservices.co.za and adminpa.co.za all offer similarly tailored packages: telephone answering, online diary management, appointment scheduling and so on. All make it clear that you are not obliged to pay for services that you don't use. And you don't have to pay for other people's sick leave or phone calls.



Nothing on Facebook. Time to tell the Turth.

No mealie meal
2,000 bottles of champagne (Moët & Chandon or ’61 Bollinger preferred); 8,000 lobsters; 100kg of prawns; 4,000 portions of caviar; 8,000 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates; 3,000 ducks; and much else besides. A postscript adds: “No mealie meal”
"Zanu-PF continues to receive massive donations from the corporate world, ordinary Zimbabweans and from people from all walks of life and we are confident that this year's celebrations will be the best."
Patrick Zhuwawo, nephew of Robert Mugabe and head of the organising committee for Mugabe's 85th birthday party on 21 February.

Of fuzz and muchness down under

Koalas bears, by virtue of their quaint appearance, have a naturally high warm and fuzzy factor, but when they display the behaviour of a abandoned puppy, the ratings are apt to go through the roof. Sam the koala bear was found limping around in a burned-out forest at Mirboo North, southeast of Melbourne. So desperate was Sam that she stopped when approached by firefighter David Tree, placed a singed paw in his hand and accepted the bottled water that Tree offered her. The incident was fuzzily captured on a cellphone camera and posted on YouTube, making Sam an instant web celebrity and giving a little relief in the midst of the tragic loss of life and property that Australians have had to deal with since a plague of devastating firestorms hit the country early this month.

According to a report on MSNBC, Sam, who is recovering from her injuries at Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson, has found solace in the arms of Bob, a fellow victim. Manager of the shelter, Colleen Wood, says the two have been inseparable since they met: "Sam is probably aged between two to four going by her teeth and Bob is about four so they have a muchness with each other."

15 minutes of fame

On February 15, 2005, YouTube made its debut on the internet with the invitation to narcissists worldwide to "Broadcast Yourself". In the four years that it has been around the video-sharing website  has become the third most visited place on the web. The story goes that founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen dreamt up the idea when faced with the problem of  sharing video footage taken at a dinner party at Chen's apartment. The third, and lesser-known, founding member, Jawed Karim, who was not at aforesaid party, denied that it was so. Karim is the star of the first YouTube video ever and features him on a visit to San Diego Zoo. It is called Me at the zoo.

Since its ground-breaking arrival, YouTube has been used by millions to document, incite, promote, expose and entertain. We've been privy to politicians falling asleep on the job and falling off their chairs, live footage of human childbirth and cops caught on tape shooting people in the head. If you can ignore the hype over copyright infringement, messy censorship policies and privacy, YouTube can actually be good for you. The following story took a hefty tug at my heartstrings.


Sleep researchers at the University of Toledo in Ohio, have identified a new internet age phenomenon – emailing while asleep. According to a report published in medical journal Sleep Medicine, a 44-year-old woman had a somnambulist episode in which she got up, went to the next room, switched on her computer, logged into her email account and proceeded to compose emails to three of her friends inviting them to a party at her house. She only discovered what she had done when one of her friends phoned the following day to accept the invitation.

The emails the woman composed were not quite up to her waking standard. They were constructed from a random mixture of upper and lower case letters and were a little nonsensical. One said: "Come tomorrow and sort this hell hole out. Dinner and drinks, 4.pm. Bring wine and caviar only." Another just said: "What the…", but what the researchers found remarkable was that the subject had displayed complex behavioural tasks like connecting to the internet and remembering her password, which  required co-ordinated movement that  has never been seen in sleepwalkers before.

A gallery of sleepwalkers
Somnambulism, or noctambulism, is, contrary to popular belief, not restricted to walking around. While the woman in the above story was remarkable because of the finesse of the tasks that she performed, Wikipedia's article on the subject references a number of newsmaking sleepwalkers:
1. In 2004, an Australian woman, whose identity was kept secret for reasons of confidentiality, was successfully treated for having sex with strangers while sleepwalking. The problem was discovered when her partner awoke to find her missing, went to look for her and found her engaged in the sex act.
2. In 1987, Ken Parks, drove 23 kilometres from his home in Pickering, Ontario, to his in-laws house, where he strangled his father-in-law unconscious, and stabbed his mother-in-law to death. He was acquitted of murder because he was sleepwalking at the time.
3. In October 2005, 32-year-old Jules Lowe, of Walkden, Greater Manchester battered his 83-year-old father to death. He told the court he was sleepwalking at the time.
4. In July 2005, a teenage girl in south- east London climbed to the top of a 40-metre crane at a building site near her home, walked across a narrow beam and fell asleep on the crane's concrete counterweight, where she was found by search and rescue officers.
5. In August 2007, a German teenager stepped out of a window in his fourth-storey apartment and fell 10 meters to the ground. He kept sleeping, even though he had broken an arm and a leg.

Carpe noctum
Nateatnight.com feaures some very funny recordings of people (supposedly) talking in their sleep. This one is tagged "Most Random Ever": "There in present ward. Mike merkins young sirs and yap. Here is a mon gentlemen. It's not coming off." Now I know where spam comes from.

HZ  neglects swimming pool
From the Eye Witness News website, late on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, "pool" had changed to "poor".

New on wordspy.com

n. The Twitter social networking service and the people who use it.

A website where a couple posts information about their upcoming or recent wedding.

ghost call
n. A silent phone call received from a person who has inadvertently dialed or selected the number on their mobile phone.

adj. Relating to the dense cultivation of vegetables and other crops on small plots, particularly in urban settings. [From the phrase Small Plot INtensive.]

pp. Attempting to fool a person into submitting personal, financial, or password data either by sending an email message that includes a scammer-controlled phone number, or by spoofing an automated phone call from a financial institution using the voice-over-IP system. [Blend of voice and phishing.]

n. A person who uses websites or other technologies to meticulously track various aspects of his or her body,

Do you know where your kids are?
The Free Range kids blog (freerangekids.wordpress.com) ran a story this week about Lori, a mother who was almost arrested for giving her 10-year-old son a taste of independence  by letting him walk to soccer practice about half a kilometre down the road from their home in a small town in Mississippi. He was intercepted by a police car and quizzed about his mother's whereabouts just three blocks away from the house. When they caught up with the "bad mom" at the soccer field they told her she could be charged with child endangerment and that they had been fielding “hundreds” of calls to 911 from curtain-twitching busybodies outraged at the sight of her son walking alone. While Lori admits that stuff does happen, even in a sleepy Mississippi town, she feels that her neighbours were being a little over-zealous. Later, she received an apology from the local police chief.

Doggie bag
In June 1936 Popular Mechanics ran an ad for a bizarre dog transportation contraption. The copy reads:
"When you take your dog along for a ride, but prefer not to have it inside the car, it can ride safely and comfortably in this sack, which is carried on the running board. The bottom of the sack is clamped to the running board and the top is fasted to the lower part of an open window with hooks, covered with small rubber tubing to prevent marring the car." (blog.modernmechanix.com)blog220309