A cautionary tale for those of you up to tomfoolery this All Hallow's Eve: just west of Fargo, Farmer Beaton's kids were shot for being annoying, on Halloween 1907. Seems they were up to no good in 1906, so the next year the subject of their torment was having none of it. The gun was loaded with birdshot, nothing particularly deadly, but the point struck home, so to speak. Here's a sign of the times: the kids made the news, their father was named, but the guy firing his gun into the darkness at percieved tresspassers is neither named, nor did this seem to be an issue for the sheriff.
I love good editing humor: The AP Stylebook has a twitter! In it, they offer such useful writing tips as "Use 'student' to refer to college attendees, and 'coed' to refer to really hot students" and "Use 'inflammable' for wimpy stuff like sparklers, 'flammable' for shit that blows up REAL GOOD." I can feel my writing abilities grow just by reading Twitter; if I spend all day reading Twitter, I'll have a Pulitzer in no time! See also: How To Write Badly Well, via.
Arnold Schwartzenneger: typographic jokester. In a recent veto, some sharp-eyed readers have noticed that the first letter of four consecutive lines spells "f - u - c - k". Previous documents have had the words "poet" and "soap" in the lines, lending some credence to the idea that Arnold is doing it intentionally, but I'm leaning towards it being the result of readers with too much time on their hands.
"Apparently, you can also get a lawnmower on a rope." Illustrated musings on the terror of lawn care innovations, by Amy Jean Porter, who lives in a little house deep in the woods.
In the 1960s, a kid at school in Fort Ransom, ND, wrote a letter, put it in a jar, and dropped it in the Sheyenne River. Despite decades of floods and erosion, that jar was recently found on the banks of the Sheyenne near Harwood - that note almost made it to the Red River, but not quite. That kid, now in his fifties, amazingly still lives near Fort Ransom, and the finder plans on returning the note to him.
Quick-thinking! A homeless man thought he'd try and break in to a woman's house. She scared him off by barking like a dog and scratching at the door, which made him have second thoughts about entering a canine-defended house. The article adds: "what dog-like behaviors she specifically mimicked remains unknown." via.
How do you know if you are pleasing your robot? Researchers at Georgia Tech are trying to find out, and they're stymied by the fact that human faces are mushy, and older people are less likely to see subtle emotions in robotic faces. One day, however, I will stop feeling like I'm constantly disappointing my dishwasher, once it gets an exaggerated, elastic face to tell me so.
How many fans does it take to make a music video? A bunch, as long as they're organized. Freaking amazing stuff. Via, which has a lot of other cool stuff too.
In 1965, a truck driver found himself without brakes, coming down a steep decline in the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He managed to avoid great catastrophe, narrowly missing a gas station and numerous bystanders as he careened out of control, but that driver lost his life in resulting crash at the bottom of the hill. His story might have been lost to the sands of time, if not for his cargo: bananas. Harry Chapin took the tragic accident and turned it into a song of combined levity and tragedy.
Those darn kids - painting crap all over important buildings, I mean, just look at the historical site of Pompeii, because- er, wait, what? Oh, that graffiti was already there. While you've probably heard of the mosaics and other art pieces found under Vesuvius' ash that enveloped Pompeii in the 1st century AD, researchers and archaeologists are now investigating the graffiti on the walls of the excavated ruins, which advertise public events, compliment the rulers, and profess love for neighboring maidens. See also: Nero's rotating room has been discovered.
A beautiful but unsigned piece of Rennaissance artwork was recently
purchased at auction, but the buyer had some detective work in mind: in
the upper-left corner was a fingerprint left in the
dried paint, which - after computer analysis - appears to match that of Leonardo Da Vinci's. Jumping from an unsigned work to a verified Da Vinci, of course, has an impact on the painting's value. Because the artist consistently used his fingers in creating his paintings there's several examples to be used for comparison, which could be as good as a signature if this forensic art expert's research stands up to scrutiny.
It's that time of year everybody - moose story time! Area police have cornered a moose at an area hotel; rumors flew that the moose was running a meth-lab in his room or was arrested for solicitation, but, no, he's just a wayward giant mammal, confused and scared by continental breakfasts. The Mainstay Suites are at the intersection of 45th Street and I-94, which puts him in a very high-traffic area, especially at this time of day, when traffic is backed up for that exit all the way to the I-29 interchange - and, incidentally, the moose's present location is only feet away from where this webserver is currently installed.
The Nobel Prize committee is notoriously opaque in its concealment of the prizewinner before any announcements, to ensure that nobody knows the honoree before the right time. They haven't, however, quite figured out webserver referer-log detective work: a sharp-eyed book blogger noticed a lot of traffic from the Swedish Academy's webservers to her Herta Muller webpages. She put two and two together and, sure enough, it turns out she was right.
Register your fonts, kids! While font piracy is pretty rampant, the most egregious offenders get caught sometimes. NBC has been sued by a large font-design firm, because they bought the most limited license for several fonts, but then sans-serif'ed them all over everything in their new fall lineup. Watch for this to be reflected in NBC's ads: the're barred from using the fonts until the suit is resolved. Via.
Obama has set the world record for the shortest time between becoming a world leader and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. From the day of his inauguration to the deadline for Nobel nomination was less than two weeks, leading people to question why, when he hasn't done anything, does he get the peace prize? Until moments ago, I was one of the people who thought Obama should decline the award, postponing renomination for a later date when he's accomplished something, but then I read this: More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments. — which also puts into perspective Arafat's Peace Prize. The goal of this year's award isn't to reward past positive acts, but to point out to Obama that he's in the position to make a positive course correction away from the US' last eight years'(or sixteen, or thirty, depending on who you ask) path towards…whatever we were trying to do.
Cockney rhyming slang might have been mastered by Seinfeld and inserted into an ATM's vernacular, but it's far from the only compex slang used in the British Isles. Polari was a similar British creation, relying on some rhyming slang, transposition of letters, and hidden references to allow the homosexual community to identify themselves and communicate discretely, in a time when the act was illegal in the UK. As such, it could certainly be considered a Thieves' Cant, a private language to allow criminals to commit their crimes undetected by eavesdroppers, although the whole "crime" angle no longer exists. The positive cultural change in society regarding homosexuality has altered our view of Polari to something more cute and subculturey rather than the criminality underlying it the mid-20th century, while thieving is still - quite rightly - illegal.
At long last, found in the dry, crunchy grass of a California back yard, is a book of lost Maya Angelou poems. Judging from the quality of verse, it was lost intentionally, in hopes of being chewed to fine confetti by Paul Rugg's LawnBoy and scattered to the Santa Anna winds, never to be found again. The Poem Into Nothing made me laugh, so that is why I chose to link to it.
Electrical engineers, usually skilled at producing electricity from the wind, running water, fissionable materials, and the sun, have figured out a new way to draw electrical energy out of nature: stick electrodes in trees. Tests at UW showed their local trees have a potential of a couple tenths of a volt, which is a pretty respectable amount of energy for sensors and simple electronics. The article makes a point of noting that this isn't the same as a potato clock: that uses the potato as a dialectric to move electrons between dissimilar metals, it doesn't generate any electricity. These trees are actually generating the electricity on their own through an unknown process.
Ingmar Bergman, the dark and serious Swedish filmmaker, influenced moviemaking as we know it with his stark and epic black-and-white style. A couple weeks ago, you could have purchased a little chunk of that genius: one of his movie cameras was on the auction block. Sure, it was a nice Canon, but it was a Super8, probably not something used in filmmaking, but valuable nonetheless. The auction expected to bring in a couple hundred bucks, but ended up selling for $5,000.
Burger King is getting a photogenic facelift: the '20/20' redesign is futuristic, edgy, state-of-the-art, and will probably never actually make it to a Burger King way out here in the flyover states. The redesign, according to the article, includes "hip, urban and masculine elements", adding to the frat-boy feel that the commercials have been pushing for quite a while.
There's all sorts of "punks" out there, provided you're a reader — cyberpunks, steampunks, elf…punks? Nanopunks? Find out what kind of punk you are, and be prepared to try and explain your subculture to the uninitiated, who will wrinkle their foreheads and squint as they try to comprehend, but cannot, and you finally say, "it's just a kind of sci-fi." Via.
The blog isn't particularly clear on their purpose or source, but it appears to be the project of an architecture student at NDSU. Pushing Fargo Forward is a blog theorizing expansion of the NDSU downtown campus, spreading out around the newly-dedicated Barry Hall and architecture home Klai Hall, north to the railroad tracks and a little south, enveloping the Sons of Norway. One thing I've noted: on their designs Barry Hall is missing the auditorium, which makes the north half of the block quite narrow, and the scale seems a bit off overall. And where's the statue of Rollo? It's an innovative study in redeveloping the crumbling western end of downtown that often gets overlooked by the Broadway-centric view of the city center. To the west of Barry Hall is a huge parking lot, owned by NDSU (it came with the building) - fill that in, too, Mr. Architecture Student, rather than taking over residential housing north of the post office, who would be revitalized by the new blood in the neighborhood: I'm behind any downtown project that reclaims those mostly-empty parking lots.